THE MacRory Cup is set to return in the coming months after being out of commission due to the pandemic, but the final won’t be played in its traditional St Patrick’s Day slot.
Instead, the blue ribbon Ulster Schools competition is likely to conclude sometime in February as the Hogan Cup is set to be played on March 17.
But the return of the MacRory Cup is still something that whets the appetite after it was removed from the calender for the 2020/2021 season. The 2019/2020 tournament ended on something of a bum note as well as finalists St Patrick’s Maghera and St Colman’s Newry were forced to share the title due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic (the match was initially refixed for October of last year but it had to be shelved due to a deterioration of the Covid situation). St Pius X Magherafelt and Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s Knock also had to share the MacLarnon Cup.
The exact format of this season’s competition is set to be determined this week, but it looks like that group stages will commence in mid-November with the knock-out rounds to be played off between the start of January and early February.
The plethora of other football and hurling competitions are also set to return this season. U-14.5 and U-19 competitions in both hurling and football will get underway after the mid-term break in early November.
Football will see MacRory, MacLarnon, Markey and Faul Cups starting in mid-November and concluding early in the new year. Hurling will see Mageean and Casement Cups starting in early November and, if all goes according to plan, finishing this side of Christmas. U16.5 tournaments (for example, the Rannafast Cup in football and Foresters Cup in hurling, won’t begin until the new year).
Formats will be determined once organisers have finalised who exactly will participate in the respective competitions, but it’s understood that there has been a strong uptake from schools. Any issues are understood to be unrelated to Covid-19 (there are the typical problems from some schools related to low numbers at certain age groups), and there will be 120 schools across the province taking part in the various competitions.