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Railway Cup has run out of track – no one dreams of playing for a province

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Connacht's Sean McDermott in action against Conor McManus of Ulster in the Interprovincial Football Championship Final, in Tuam, Co Galway. Picture credit: Ray Ryan / SPORTSFILE

Connacht's Sean McDermott in action against Conor McManus of Ulster in the Interprovincial Football Championship Final, in Tuam, Co Galway. Picture credit: Ray Ryan / SPORTSFILE

Connacht's Sean McDermott in action against Conor McManus of Ulster in the Interprovincial Football Championship Final, in Tuam, Co Galway. Picture credit: Ray Ryan / SPORTSFILE

When will the GAA put everyone out of their misery and throw the inter-provincial competitions onto the scrapheap?

There is an older generation who remember the fantastic Railway Cup games of the past, with massive crowds in Croke Park, and it's understandable that they have a desire to keep the competition alive.

But from my experience, underage coaches would inspire young hopefuls with promises of one day representing their club at senior level or maybe even their county.

There was no mention of one day playing for your province. Players that I played with never aspired to play with Leinster.

Sure, it's a nice ego boost to be asked into the squad, but in recent years has there even been any prestige in that, when you consider that some Dublin, Kildare and Laois subs have been picked on the Leinster team?

An All-Ireland winning manager like Jim Gavin would give players extra motivation to commit; instead they gave us Luke Dempsey.

Last week, we had Aaron Kernan on the show and he spoke about his love for the competition. His father Joe managed Ulster this year and Aaron told us that no player from Ulster who was invited into the squad turned the opportunity down.

He believed Ulster players loved representing their province and it really meant something to them.

The scoreline on Sunday would suggest otherwise. Ulster lost by 15 points to Connacht in the final.

While I believe Aaron and a minority of players have an interest in playing the inter-provincials, I suspect most players who speak about the pride of representing their province are just paying the inter-pros lip service.

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