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MacRory finalists eye Autumn date

Paul Hughes (right) is joint-manager of MacRory Cup finalists St Patrick's, Maghera
By Séamas McAleenan

BY SEAMAS McALEENAN

THE respective management teams of the schools involved in this year's Danske Bank MacRory Cup final are in favour of plans to complete the competition.

The showpiece event of the GAA schools' season was due to take place on St Patrick's Day, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This week, Ulster Schools' secretary Seamus Woods insisted that the final, usually played as a double-header with the MacLarnon Cup final, would go ahead, even if it was after the end of this school year.

Paul Hughes, joint manager of St Patrick's, Maghera, and Cathal Murray from the St Colman's, Newry management team have both echoed Woods' determination to find a date on the calendar for both finals.

Describing the current situation as 'surreal', Hughes didn't rule out a September date but highlighted the need to play “when the time is right”.

“These are exceptional times and maybe an exceptional solution is called for. In the present climate, a final in the new school year looks OK.

“It could see the likes of ourselves and St Colman's bringing boys back to play in it, boys who have moved on to university.

“But it has to be about the players and not about squeezing it out or in. Schools play these games to give the players the best experiences we can.”

Murray is also in favour of getting the competition completed but can see problems.

“If you told the boys now that the MacRory final would be in the first week of September, I'd say they would jump at it.

“But no-one knows when the GAA will give a re-start date and you could see a whole lot of activity for these boys then squeezed into a short period of time, for club and county. In fact we could be going from nothing to too much.

“I'm sure neither Maghera nor ourselves would want to play without putting some training preparation into the game. After all we both have been preparing for the 17th of March from last September.

“But it is the whole uncertainty around the situation. It would be great to play the final but we would have to look at the options when we eventually get the go-ahead to start playing again.”

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