Category: Archive

New York, Boston GAAs set sights on Railway Cup

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Pierce O’Reilly Having avoided the axe, the Railway Cup football and hurling competitions may be thrown a lifeline from the New York or Boston GAAs next year. The 74-year-old interprovincial championship was once a showcase event for the GAA, but it has fallen on hard times in recent years. Though it still brings together the cream of the crop of Irish talent from the four provinces for a semifinal series and a final, the games are poorly attended, sometimes with as few as 500 fans present. With the GAA bosses desperate to restore its profile, they are looking to the U.S. next season. A revival plan that has been put in place is expected to further support a proposal to play the finals in the U.S. as part of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, though it’s not known which city will be chosen. The New York GAA president, Monty Moloney, and his sidekicks, who are well thought of now in Ireland, could easily entice the stars to travel to the Big Apple and set up an annual festival around the event. Reports from Boston, however, suggest that plans are at an advanced stage already to play the games at the state-of-the-art facilities at Canton. The Railway Cup was the only competition to survive the axe when GAA chiefs met recently for their Central Council meeting. The Oireachtas Hurling Competition, the South East Hurling League, and the All-Ireland "B" Championship all got the boot. Players Committee chairman Jarlath Burns swung the vote in favor of retaining the Railway Cup competition after an open and heated debate with the Games Administration Committee, which wanted to kill it off. The Railway Cup may have escaped an assassination attempt, but there are still a number of people opposed to its continuation, The Connacht Council secretary, John Prenty, is one of them. "I can see the U.S. junket as a lifeline alright. but as far as I’m concerned. the competition needs to get a major financial injection," he said. In regard to which city would be chosen to host the finals, Prenty said that would depend on who puts forward the best package. "Who ever wants it more will get it", Prenty said. The vice president of New York GAA, Liam Birmingham, said that no discussion or debate had taken place on the issue. "We met with the Connacht Council and Croke Park while in Ireland last week, but the Railway Cup Finals never came up," he said. "To be honest, I can’t see the finals being played in the U.S. on St. Patrick’s Day because the pitches could very easily be covered by snow at that time. Easter Sunday may be a better option." Birmingham said he welcomed the idea and that the issue would be discussed further at the next Board of Officers meeting. Meanwhile, Boston GAA chairman John McDevitt said that delegates from New England would be leaving no stone unturned at the GAA Congress on April 6 and 7 to put a polished package together to attract county teams overseas to further promote the new facility at Canton. "We’d love to have the Railway Cup finals here," he said. "We have a better pitch and catering facilities at Canton and we proved with the hosting of the North American finals last year that this is the best GAA facility now in the U.S." In a drive to free up more Sundays, the GAC has decided this year to play the Railway Cup football semifinals with the All-Ireland Under 21 football semifinals on Sunday, April 15. The Railway Cup final will take place the following day (Easter Monday). Venues and times will be confirmed at a later date. Traditionally, the Railway Cup hurling and football finals took place at Croke Park on St. Patrick’s Day, but this date is now reserved for the All-Ireland club championship finals. In his report to the Connacht Council Convention at the Ardiluan Hotel in Galway on Thursday, Feb. 22, Prenty said: "We have tried all types of remedies to cure the Railway Cup, but all have failed miserably. The latest excuse is that the players want the competitions to stay, but the evidence does not support this theory."

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese