Ladies Football Article

Ladies Football Article

The Inter Provincial Tournament is the traditional season marker that the All-Ireland Championship is just around the corner. Players from across Munster, Leinster, Ulster and Connacht set aside local rivalries to battle it out for the Mick Talbot Cup just days before they face each other in the preliminary stages of the Provincial Championships.However, this year Connacht have not entered a team into the competition in which the three other provinces will take part at Pairc Chiaran in Athlone on Saturday, 31st May.

The decision not to field a side in this year's Interprovincial tournament has come not from County Boards or managers, but from the players themselves. Players from Connacht are unwilling to commit to the tournament due to the already hectic schedule of inter county and club football.

Ita Hannon, an officer on the Connacht Council, said that the last few years have amounted to an all-round season for ladies footballers and as a result they have lost interest in the Inter Provincials. “There has been too much football and the players simply don't get a break as a result,” she explained. “The week of the Inter Provincials is the only chance in the year they get to go away.

“There is no point in us putting a token team together for the tournament. We could put together a panel of second and third team players, but this would be unfair to them and would prevent Connacht from competing effectively. We did try and negotiate with the Association and we asked them to reduce the competition from two days to one, but they refused and now that Connacht aren't in it, they have changed it to one day.

Hannon is positive, however, that Connacht's absence this year will not be permanent. “After the summer, we plan to form a Committee to look at how we can try and encourage the players back into the tournament. I am positive about the future and we'd love to see Connacht competing in the Inter Provincials again,” said Hannon.

The loss of Connacht from this year's tournament will be keenly felt as a wealth of talent that can be found in the ranks of the Galway, Mayo, Leitrim and Sligo county panels, who have all tasted success in recent years.

Connacht have failed to win the Mick Talbot Cup since 2000 and were widely tipped to end their losing run last year, following Galway and Mayo's achievement in making the Division 1 National League Final and all-Connacht affair. Mayo, indeed, went on to meet Cork in the All-Ireland final.

In the end, however, it was Munster who defeated Ulster to victory the Inter Provincial Tournament and Connacht were beaten by Leinster in the Shield final. This year, there will be no Shield final.

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