Changes force MacRory Cup redraw
THE quarter-finals of both the Danske Bank MacRory and MacLarnon Cup competitions have been brought forward a week to be played between Thursday February 6 and Wednesday February 12.
As a consequence the draw for these games will take place tomorrow (Thursday January 23) at 7pm in the Danske Bank branch in the Kennedy Centre in west Belfast.
The decision to move the games forward was taken at Monday night's Ulster Schools' Council meeting and came as a direct result of Ardchomhairle's decision at the weekend to reverse their ruling back in December relating to the eligibility of schools' players for the expanded inter-county under 20 competitions.
The December ruling meant that those involved in schools' competitions were not eligible for the inter-county competition until their involvement with their schools ended.
However it is understood that a number of counties claimed that they could not field at under 20 level without their schools' players.
At the weekend 17 counties applied to Ardchomhairle for, and were granted, an exemption from this ruling, bringing the MacRory and MacLarnon quarter-final games into a clash with under 20 fixtures in the same week.
The Ulster and All-Ireland Schools' Councils have made several representations to Ardchomhairle since the announcement to expand the under 20 competitions was made last summer.
Running the competitions at the same time as the provincial and All-Ireland schools' competitions places a lot of pressure on school players; on one level they are pulled between two different teams while, if they serve both masters, the question of young player burn out raises its head.
The Round Two Eliminators in both MacRory and MacLarnon Cup are due to take place over the next ten days and the quarter-final draw was scheduled to happen on Sunday February 2 en the four qualifiers were known.
At that stage steps could have been taken within the draw framework to avoid situations where quarter-finalists had already met each other in group games pre-Christmas.
With the draw now tomorrow evening, this cannot be taken into consideration and there will be no restriction on quarter-final pairings.
The draw format will be as follows:
Bowl 1: the 4 league group winners
Bowl 2: the Round 2 knock-out pairings.
The four games in the Danske Bank MacRory Cup Round 2 Eliminators are:
St Macartan's v St Mary's, Magherafelt
St Eunan's, Letterkenny v Patrician, Carrickmacross
St Patrick's, Armagh v Abbey CBS
St Michael's, Enniskillen v Holy Trinity, Cookstown
While the four teams in Bowl 1 are: St Patrick's Academy, St Colman's Newry, Omagh CBS and St Patrick's, Maghera
In the Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup the Round 2 Eliminators are :
Carndonagh CS v St Patrick's, Downpatrick
St Paul's Bessbrook v Abbey Vocational, Donegal
Aquinas Grammar v Loreto, Coleraine
St Columb's, Derry v St Joseph's, Donaghmore
And Bowl 1 will contain: Our Lady's, Castleblayney, St Pius X, Magherafelt, Loreto, Milford and Our Lady's & St Patrick's, Knock.
The Carndonagh v Downpatrick game is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon 12.30pm in Faughanvale and therefore only one of those teams will be in the draw.
All the other games in both competitions are due to roll out over the next ten days, although one or two may now be brought forward to allow a little more recovery time between games.