Antrim pass motion for Leinster SHC and Joe McDonagh Cups to be combined

Antrim won the Joe McDonagh Cup in 2022. Picture: Seamus Loughran
Antrim won the Joe McDonagh Cup in 2022. Picture: Seamus Loughran

ANTRIM’S annual convention last night passed a motion calling for the Leinster SHC and Joe McDonagh Cup to be combined.

Club delegates voted in favour of the motion, put forward by Glen Rovers Armoy, and it will now be moved on towards the floor of Annual Congress.

The motion calls for Leinster to be expanded to ten teams, namely the six currently involved and the top four in the Joe McDonagh Cup, split up across two groups of five.

It’s proposed that the top two in each group qualify for the Leinster semi-finals, with third placed teams going into the Joe McDonagh semi-finals and those in fourth and fifth playing off for the other two semi-final spots.

The two teams beaten in those playoffs would then meet each other, with the loser relegated to the Christy Ring Cup.

Its inception year would see the top four from the previous year’s McDonagh Cup incorporated in the new 10-team Leinster championship, with the bottom two from the existing second tier dropping into the Christy Ring.

The move is likely to meet resistance from the traditional superpowers in Leinster, who are already listening each summer to how vastly superior the current Munster championship is.

Antrim stayed up in Leinster this year when they won their final-day clash in Westmeath handsomely, having retained Division 1B status earlier in the year, although Darren Gleeson has been dealing with a number of big-name withdrawals in recent days.

Fermanagh’s convention also passed a motion from Tempo that calls for the All-Ireland minor finals to be returned to their tradition place as a curtain-raiser to the senior finals.

The minor deciders have been moved away from All-Ireland day since the grade officially became a ‘development’ grade after its change to U17.

This year’s final, in which Derry overcame Monaghan, was played in Armagh’s Box-It Athletic Grounds, on July 9, a week before the same two counties played in senior All-Ireland semi-finals against Kerry and Dublin respectively.

While counties continue to vote for a return to U18 at club level – although Kerry bucked the trend last week - the GAA is insisting that the inter-county game will remain U17.

A second motion that will go to the Ulster GAA convention calls to adopt the same safeguards around the preliminary round as adopted at inter-county level in recent years, whereby a county cannot be drawn in the opening fixture for two years after appearing there.

The motion comes from Derrygonnelly, who have played in the preliminary round of the Ulster Club SFC four times since 2015, including this year against Kilcoo.

The new rule wouldn’t have saved them that gig as their previous appearance had been in 2019 against Cargin, but that wouldn’t have happened as they’d been beaten by Scotstown at the same stage the year before.

Elsewhere, the dispute over the Tyrone minor football championship is set to rumble into the new year, with the Red Hand county board having officially pulled out of having representation at this year’s St Paul’s Ulster minor tournament.

St Paul’s were informed this morning of the final decision, which has arisen as Dromore have taken appeals over their expulsion having declined to take part in a penalty shootout with Trillick after the sides were inseparable after extra-time in early September.

That was at the quarter-final stage and the championship has been frozen since, with no apparent hope of resolution this side of Christmas.

St Paul’s were due to play the winners themselves but now progress to face Mayobridge. The tournament begins this Saturday with a double-header of Clan na Gael v Castleblayney and Four Masters v Magherafelt.