FORMER Armagh captain Jarlath Burns has called for counties who do not release their players to third level colleges for McKenna Cup duty to be punished.
The pre-season provincial competition has lost Queen's University, who pulled out because of the anticipated unavailability of a number of their players who they felt would play for their counties.
Queen's alleged that "undue pressure" would be placed on these players to play for their counties.
Ulster Council's rules for the competition state that colleges should have first call on players. But Burns believes that this rule is not being adhered to and has weighed into the debate by describing the situation as "shameful" and "ridiculous".
"One county broke ranks – we all know which one. Then, like a herd of sheep, some of the other Ulster counties followed. Fair play to Antrim and Derry, at least they had a bit of sense and have stayed loyal to the format that makes the competition meaningful," he said.
"Coercing college players to line out with their county in a competition that has no real purpose than to get lads out on to a field is a ridiculous stand point. It puts a wedge between these lads and their universities.
"The players are 'piggy in the middle' – torn between their college, their mates and whatever chance they have of playing county football."