Saturday 21 September 2019

Pete McGrath: Connacht call will kill Railway Cup

Pete McGrath. Photo: Sportsfile
Pete McGrath. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Bogue

Former All-Ireland winning manager Pete McGrath believes the GAA are guilty of using an argument to kill off the Railway Cup that now applies to the future of the International Rules series.

After 90 years, the Railway Cup, or the Inter-Provincial Series as it has been re-branded, is no more with Connacht refusing to field a team in 2017. But having shifted it from that spot in mid-February to December - when players are either in the slog of pre-season or recovering from injuries, the appeal has waned.

Last December's Inter-Pros football final was hosted in Carrick-on-Shannon and attracted a crowd of 150. McGrath - who guided Down to All-Ireland glory in 1991 and '94 - was the last winning manager, with Ulster beating Connacht in last year's final.

"All I know is there are two things; that Connacht have definitely withdrawn. The only other thing I know is that I have not had contact at all from (Ulster Council Secretary) Brian McAvoy in the Ulster council about the Railway Cup," the new Louth manager explained.

"I have enquired but there hasn't been a peep about it. The International Rules team is in Australia at the moment and Colm O'Rourke made a reference to it about a fortnight ago in his article in the Sunday Independent.

"It was a throwaway remark about something that had already been put into cold storage and he said, 'It's going the same way as the Railway Cup.'"

Asked if he believed Connacht's motivation came as a cost-cutting measure, he answered: "I know for a number of years in recent times, Connacht were very grudgingly involving themselves in the Railway Cup. It appears to me that the Connacht council didn't really have any great love for it, particularly in recent years."

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