Tyrone Secretary calls for new look Ulster Championship

Michael Murphy Angloe CeltTyrone county secretary Dominic McCaughey has called on the Ulster Council to streamline the provincial football championship and abandon the long-standing tradition of playing just one game each week.

McCaughey wants to see a new-look Anglo Celt Cup series, with more than one championship match staged on weekends during May and June, and the competition played off in a shorter time-frame.

“Club fixtures could be planned much more effectively if the Ulster Council were to confine its football championship into a much shorter period of time,” he says in his annual report.

“Additional dates would then be made available for counties to use for their club fixtures and this could easily be achieved by playing more than one fixture on every weekend in May and June, and by decreasing the time gap between the provincial semi-finals and final.”

And he praised Croke Park’s decision to introduce a two-sided draw for the All-Ireland Qualifiers, hailing the initiative as a boost to the club scene, with fixture planning made significantly easier.

“The introduction, by the National Fixtures’ Planners, of a two-sided draw for the Provincial and All-Ireland senior football championships in 2014 worked effectively in that every county knew when it would be participating in the Qualifier series or the Provincial Championship.

“This meant that the planning of fixtures within the county could be more readily undertaken.”

However, McCaughey points up serious difficulties with the scheduling of club fixtures, claiming that too many fixture making bodies are operating independently of each other.

And he insists that the fixtures difficulties are not just an issue for the fixture planners, but also team managers at both club and county level.

“If simple solutions were available they would have been put in place long ago, but unfortunately solutions are not straightforward, partly because there are too many fixture-making bodies operating quite independently of each other.

“In reviewing club competitions for the current year it would be wrong to ignore the issues that must be addressed by not just the fixtures planners and the CCC but also by the clubs and the county teams’ managers.

“The most pressing of these relates to Reserve football, where in 2014 there

has been an unsatisfactorily high level of games not played for a variety of reasons.”

The Tyrone secretary says the problem of youth games clashing with important school exams needs to be addressed.

“The second recurring issue is the period of time allocated to particular youth competitions particularly at the U18 and U16 levels and the insufficient regularity of the games.

“Difficulties remain with the timing of these competitions despite serious attempts being made to avoid or minimize conflicts with post-primary schools’ competitions, county teams’ preparations and matches, and of course clashes with most important career-defining examinations.”