Dr. McKenna Cup

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Dr. McKenna Cup
Current season or competition:
2014 Dr. McKenna Cup
Flag of Ulster.svg
Irish Corn Dochtúir Mac Cionnaith
Code Football
Founded 1927
Region Ulster (GAA)
No. of teams 12 (9 counties, 3 universities)
Title holders Tyrone (11th title)
Most titles Monaghan (13 titles)

The Dr. McKenna Cup is a Gaelic football competition played between counties and universities in the province of Ulster. It is the secondary Gaelic football competition based in Ulster behind the Ulster Senior Football Championship, and the fourth most important inter-county competition in which Ulster counties take part, behind the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, the Ulster Championship and the National Football League.

Once held in high regard, in recent years the focus of the competition has changed, and some county teams have made use of it as a pre-season "warm up" competition ahead of the National League and Championship.[1] The addition of university teams has also changed the nature of the competition, but the generally high recent standard of Ulster football, combined with the variety in motivation has led to a less prestigious, but nonetheless intriguing competition.

Since 2010 the competition has been known—for sponsorship reasons—as The Barrett Sports Lighting McKenna Cup. The current holders of the cup are Tyrone.

History[edit]

Antrim manager Liam Bradley (left) with Armagh manager Peter McDonnell (right) at the launch of the 2009 competition

The cup was donated to the Ulster Council in 1924 by the Most Rev. Dr. McKenna with the first tournament being played in 1927.[2]

When Bishop Patrick McKenna, Bishop of Clogher presented the McKenna Cup to the Ulster Council in 1925, he was one of only a small group willing at that time to be publicly associated with the GAA in Ulster. Ireland in the 1920s was slowly emerging from war, unrest and change.

When the Ulster Council sought donors for trophies there wasn’t a queue to their door with offers. From 1923 the council were actively looking for a donor for their senior championship and in 1925 the treasurer of the council proposed the establishment of a second competition to prepare teams for the championship.

Two loyal GAA stalwarts came to the council's rescue in 1925. JF O Hanlon, owner of The Anglo-Celt newspaper presented a trophy to BC Fay, secretary of the Council. It was decided to use the trophy for the Ulster senior championship and it was first presented to Cavan who won the 1925 Ulster championship. Treasurer O’ Duffy was successful in securing a trophy from the bishop of Clogher and the new cup was presented to Council in 1925 although it was not until 1927 that the competition got underway.

The inaugural competition was won by Antrim, defeating Cavan in the final. Monaghan are the most successful team in the tournament with 13 wins. Fermanagh, with four wins, are the least successful of the county teams. The McKenna Cup is, to date, Fermanagh's only senior inter-county title.

The competition was not staged in 2001 and 2002, but was resurrected in 2003.[3]

Addition of Universities[edit]

Action from the 2009 group game between University of Ulster, Jordanstown (UUJ) (blue) and Fermanagh (green)

Until the early 2000s, the competition was purely an inter-county competition, but the Ulster counties allowed the two main Universities in Ulster, Queen's University,and the University of Ulster and St Mary's University College (a college of Queen's University). The stipulation of this was that University teams would have first choice for any player who is eligible to play for both the University team and the county team.

The University teams have, naturally, emerged as among the weaker teams, but are by no means the 'whipping boys' of the competition, having beaten teams such as Antrim in 2007,[4] and the added experience against playing teams of such a high standard is expected to be beneficial to the University teams in the principle Gaelic football competition for Irish universities, the Sigerson Cup. This initiative seems to be bearing fruit, given that the 2007 Sigerson Cup final was contested by Queen's University and University of Ulster - historically, universities in the south of Ireland have dominated.

2009 saw Queen's University Belfast become the first university side to reach the McKenna Cup final.[5]

2007 Tyrone ineligibility dispute[edit]

Tyrone caused controversy in 2007 when they fielded four players who had already been selected by University teams. The official rule is that Universities have first choice on players, so in effect, they were fielding ineligible players. Tyrone manager, Mickey Harte, claimed it was the players' own decision to choose to play for the county team over their University. Tyrone were docked two points as a punishment, but this did not affect their progression into the semi-final stage.[6]

Although Tyrone won the final, beating Donegal by 2-09 to 0-05, Tyrone were stripped of their title for fielding the ineligible University players in the match. The players had not been listed on the official team sheet, which was another breach of the rules.[7] However, Tyrone's victory was reinstated upon appeal.[8]

2013 withdrawal of Queen's[edit]

Ahead of the 2013 competition, Queen's University Belfast withdrew in a controversy over their players being poached by other teams,[9][10][11] though Ulster Council President Aogan Farrell had appealed for this practice to stop.[12]

Roll of honour[edit]

# Team Wins Years won
1 Monaghan
13
1928, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1948, 1952, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1995, 2003
2 Tyrone
12
1957, 1973, 1978, 1982, 1984, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2014
3 Cavan
11
1936, 1940, 1943, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1962, 1968, 1988, 2000
Down 1944, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1972, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2008
Derry 1947, 1954, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1993, 1999, 2011
4 Armagh
8
1929, 1938, 1939, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1986, 1990
Donegal 1963, 1965, 1967, 1975, 1985, 1991, 2009, 2010
5 Antrim
6
1941, 1942, 1945, 1946, 1966, 1981
6 Fermanagh
4
1930, 1933, 1977, 1997

Broadcasting[edit]

From 2007, the games were broadcast live on Irish language channel, TG4.[13] This, along with the fact that attendances are in the region of 20,000 for the later matches,[14] suggests that the tournament is held in higher esteem than its counterparts in other provinces, such as the O'Byrne Cup.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Heaney, Paddy (12 November 2008). "Orchard to pilot new approach in McKenna". The Irish News. p. 62. Retrieved 12 November 2008. 
  2. ^ Ulster GAA
  3. ^ Mullan, Bernie (2003-01-10). "Cup a quiet start to Moran's third stint". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  4. ^ "Antrim 1-8 1-14 UUJ". BBC News. 21 January 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Woods, Ciaran (23 January 2009). "Class of '09 comes good!". Gaelic Life. p. 7. 
  6. ^ "Red Hands lose McKenna Cup points". BBC News. 24 January 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "Tyrone stripped of McKenna Cup". BBC News. 15 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  8. ^ "Tyrone reinstated as Dr. McKenna Cup Champions". BBC News. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "Queen's withdraw from McKenna Cup over player availability row". BBC Sport. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "Queen's University could withdraw from 2013 McKenna Cup". BBC Sport. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  11. ^ McKeon, Conor (20 December 2012). "Queen's quit McKenna Cup". Evening Herald. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Ulster GAA chief wants fair play for colleges in McKenna Cup". BBC Sport. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "TG4 to show McKenna Cup games". 21 December 2006. 
  14. ^ "McKenna Cup in sponsorship boost". BBC News. 30 October 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 

External links[edit]