THE Paul McGirr Ulster U-16 Championship is set to make a welcome return this winter following a four-year hiatus.
The Drom0re-based tournament was called off in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions and hadn’t been played in the intervening years, so its future looked in real jeopardy.
But the tournament is set to be revived this December albeit in a scaled-down format as only two counties in Ulster (Tyrone and Armagh) played an U16 championship this year, though it’s expected that there’ll be a much fuller representation across the province in 2024.
In an effort to beef up the competition, the U-15 champions from two other counties – Kinawley (Fermanagh) and (Carryduff) Down – have been invited along and have been been granted leeway in terms of the age profile so they aren’t disadvantaged.
The other competing teams will be Errigal Ciaran (Tyrone’s U16 champions) and Dromintee (Armagh U-16 champions). The draw has yet to be made but the teams will compete in two semi-finals on Saturday, December 9 and the final will be played exactly a week later on December 16.
The tournament is named in honour of former Tyrone underage star Paul McGirr, who died following an accidental collision in an Ulster Championship match against Armagh in 1997. McGirr was a native of Dromore, and the competition had become a cornerstone of the annual fundraising undertaken by the ‘Spirit of Paul McGirr’ charity.