Top officials signal end of inter-pros
Central Council will decide next month whether to permanently pull the plug on the inter-provincial series, with the two most important men in the GAA indicating yesterday that they are not worth reviving.
The inter-pros' future have been under serious threat since they were discontinued last season and their fate will now be decided by Congress next month.
Director general Paraic Duffy said: "I think their day is past," while GAA president Christy Cooney went even further, saying "we will not be pumping money into a competition that spectators and players are not interested in."
Cooney said that one province could only summon 16 players to line out for the competition in recent years -- a strong indicator that the top players are no longer supporting the tournament that once held such prestige.
Duffy said: "Ulster (players) are an honourable exception, but a lot of top players don't seem to want to take part in it anymore."
The competition has in recent years been overshadowed by the All-Ireland club competitions, the finals of which take place on the inter-pros' old plum date of St Patrick's Day.
In his provincial report this year Connacht secretary John Prenty said "as a point of information, the inter-provincials were not played this year. Did anybody notice?"
But several high-profile former and current figures, including Joe Kernan and John O'Mahony, have lobbied to keep the competitions going and the Cork County Board voted in support of them this year.
There have been suggestions that playing the inter-pros in conjunction with the club finals on March 17 might be one way of returning the prestige and support that previously surrounded it.
The competition's long-time sponsor Martin Donnelly has also suggested that the GPA should run it, with all the proceeds going to their player welfare initiatives.