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U21 Football Championship: Third clash of old foes sees new dates set

By John Campbell

The Ulster Council has been forced to re-schedule its Cadbury’s Under 21 Football Championship programme following two drawn games between Down and Tyrone at the quarter-final stage of the competition.

The sides will meet for a third time on Wednesday night at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh (8pm) and the semi-final between the winners and Monaghan will go ahead on Wednesday, April 6.

Cavan are already through to the decider — on Wednesday, April 13 — having beaten Donegal in midweek in the first semi-final.

An Ulster Council spokesman explained: “We had to give Tyrone and Down breathing space following their second replay and this means that everything has to be put back. But the competition is certainly building towards a tremendous climax.”

Meanwhile, the GAA authorities may yet decide to take on board a plea by Kerry U21 team manager John Kennedy to review the scheduling of the All-Ireland U21 Championship.

Kennedy takes the view, and there are many who would agree with him, that attempting to play midweek matches in March — a month that already hosts the finals of the Sigerson Cup, MacRory Cup and All-Ireland Club Hurling and Football competitions — is asking too much of younger players.

“Teams are not able to prepare properly. Maybe the GAA should look at moving it to a similar period in the calendar as the Under 21 Hurling Championship in June and July. That would be more suitable,” says Kennedy, whose team are in the Munster final.

Meanwhile, the Tyrone Ladies Football Board has announced a lucrative one-year rolling sponsorship deal with Fermanagh company Target Express.

This is a significant feather in the board’s cap as it means that Target Express will now sponsor Tyrone county teams at all levels.

O’Neill’s International will continue as kit suppliers to the ladies teams.

Tyrone Ladies Board PRO Paddy Hunter said: “The extra revenue will help to further cement the structures of the game.”

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