Wednesday 20 November 2019

Top officials signal end of inter-pros

Cliona Foley

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.

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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.

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