Murray calls for Ulster Schools to reverse decision

ST Colman’s manager Cathal Murray has called on Ulster Schools GAA to reverse their position on cancelling all competitions for the 2021 season.

Last month, Ulster Schools GAA announced that it had “reluctantly accepted that it will not be possible to complete any formal competitions during the current school year 2020/21.”

Murray, however, believes that it’s too early to make such a definitive decision and he has called for a rethink having witnessed first-hand the devastation that the announcement caused his players.

I speak to the boys through Teams and they were gutted, absolutely gutted,” said Murray, whose side had to share the 2020 MacRory Cup title after their final was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some of them were very angry, along with myself. We’re only past February but children’s sport should be at the top of any list in terms of getting back to normality.

The boys need a focus, they need something to work towards. They have been hammered from all sides. The kids have lost so much.

In a place like this, and any other school, the boys have come for an education but football is so high up for them. If given a choice between the books and the ball you know what’s going to come out on top.

A lot of them are struggling with this lockdown, they’re suffering. I can hear it in their voices.

The number of emails I got from the lads about it. Some parents have been ringing too to say that it is a horrendous decision.”

Murray says that he is well aware that any reversing of the decision may end up only being a stay of execution, but he also believes that it is a risk worth taking if it means that footballers and hurlers can regain a little bit of hope.

He also said that a new format would be inevitable if competitions were to be staged, and that it could be run off quite quickly.

The decision was made so early. Some of the students are due back at the end of March but by and large everyone will be back after Easter in April. That leaves April, May and June to get some form of competitions going. It mightn’t be what we want but it gives the boys one of the main reasons for coming to school.

I want them to review and revise the decision, or at least review it.

It may happen that there is no football, and that will be a decision that may have to be made, but I don’t see why we had to announce it now.

The boys would do anything to play MacRory Cup football, they’d play onto July.

I had a lad who sent me an email saying he had never made a team, he had made a few panels just, and he had worked so hard on his game to break into the senior team last summer. He was really looking forward to giving the MacRory a crack. Those dreams, as it stands, are ruined. I really feel for the boys.

Last year was tough, we were a few days out from our final (against St Patrick’s, Maghera) and I know the toll it took on the boys. So to see that happening again is hard to take.

It’d be knockout football, and it could be run off very quickly. I just want them to look at the situation again.”

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