Sacrifices of Ulster players shows their dedication, says Joe Kernan
THE Ulster Council's total commitment to the inter-provincial football championship is complemented by the determination of the players to keep the province to the fore.
The series may be viewed as past its sell-by date in many quarters but the governing body in the province remains rigid in its support for the competition.
And this is very much reflected on all fronts in the build-up to Sunday's final against Connacht in Tuam (2.30).
While council officials continue to laud what they see as the benefits emanating from the competition, five players – Rory Beggan, Colin Walshe, Chrissy McKaigue, Mattie Donnelly and Kieran Hughes – are prepared to make a considerable sacrifice in a bid to help extend Ulster's dominance.
The quintet will line out for UUJ against UCD in the semi-final of the Sigerson Cup on Friday and could conceivably find themselves in action in the final on Saturday against UCC or NUI Maynooth.
And then it will be a three-hour dash to Tuam to link up with their Ulster colleagues for Sunday's showdown.
Ryan Feeney, the Ulster Council's director of public affairs said:
"While the council supports the competition in every way it can in terms of promotion, marketing and finance, it's the players who really make everything possible. We are now in a position where a third successive title is within our capacity and that says a lot for the consistency that our team is showing."
Joe Kernan, who is anxious to see Ulster followers get behind his side on Sunday, believes that the sacrifices which the five UUJ players are prepared to make provide further confirmation of the level of enthusiasm there is for the confirmation.
"The fact these players are prepared to be involved with Ulster in addition to their Sigerson commitments shows just how much their province means to them," states Kernan.
"As far as I am concerned, the players set the agenda. I got marvellous intensity from the Ulster side in last Saturday's semi-final win over Leinster and I have no doubt that this will be replicated against Connacht."
Kernan, who hailed the contribution of his substitutes in the semi-final, added: "These are five very talented players and we would like to have them on board with Ulster.
"But naturally I will cut my cloth to suit the measure. You cannot make exceptional demands on players. We'll see how things pan out in the Sigerson Cup and take things from there."