Former Down player Mark Poland opts for Champions League final which clashes with Ulster Championship opener
IT is a clash of contests that could have posed a major dilemma - but for one former Down senior player, it's the Champions League that wins out over his county's Ulster Championship opener.
Mark Poland is hoping to be in Ukraine capital Kiev, on May 26, to cheer his beloved soccer team Liverpool to a historic sixth win in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
At precisely the same time, his former team mates will be opening their bid for Ulster glory in the Championship against Antrim at Páirc Esler in Newry.
His former team mate and fellow fan, Benny Coulter's early plans are to "probably watch the Down game and then watch the second half" of the Champions League.
"I've been looking at it. I'll have my headphones on, Here, I would love to be watching the (Liverpool) match, it'd be a bit of craic, but I can step out and watch the second half. I have to go to the Down match."
But for Poland, who announced his inter-county retirement at the end of last year after 34 Championship appearances, a chance to get to the Champions League final is one he is not willing to pass over.
"I'm not playing any more," he said.
"I was in Liverpool at the weekend and there's a chance I could be going to Kiev, me and a friend.
"My brother is on the Down panel, but at the moment he has an injury and he won't be playing.
"I hadn't thought about the dates too much, but if this works out - there's no option. I think I'll be making that flight.
"The Stoke match wasn't that exciting by the atmosphere in the city was amazing. It's like Down getting to the All-Ireland final, it creates this buzz."
But, he missed the nail-biting semi-final second leg at Stadio Olimpico in Rome which booked the reds place in the final.
Poland revealed he was otherwise engaged playing for his home club, Longstone.
"I had a club match last night and there were only 10 or 15 minutes left of the (Liverpool/Roma) match when that finished," he said.
"I had no option there. I just watched the highlights last night."
Meanwhile, it seems Coulter, Ulster's leading Championship goal scorer of all-time, could be persuaded to miss the opener after all.
When told of Poland's plans he joked: "What's Polie doing? Kiev? Here, I might give Mark a phone call when I get off and see about tickets. You never know."