Ulster Schools’ and Danske Bank launch 2019-2020 programme

August 22, 2019

ULSTER Schools’ GAA Council in conjunction with their sponsor Danske Bank yesterday (WEDNESDAY) launched their programme for the incoming school year at the Dub.

St Paul’s Bessbrook and St Mary’s CBGS Belfast have both dropped down from the Danske Bank MacRory Cup to be replaced by the Derry City and Inis Eoghain amalgamation teams.

Both Cathair Dhoire and Scoileanna Inis Eoghain have reached Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup finals in recent seasons. Indeed Cathair Dhoire was beaten by St Patrick’s Downpatrick last March and they will be aware of the demands of playing in the premier football competition.

They have both been drawn in the same MacRory Cup group as St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon and St Macartan’s Monaghan.

Meanwhile champions and first time Hogan Cup winners, St Michael’s Enniskillen find themselves like last season in the same qualification group as the two Newry schools, Abbey CBS and 19 times champions St Colman’s. The group is completed by Patrician High Carrickmacross.

2018 champions St Ronan’s Lurgan are also in a familiar group – with St Mary’s Magherafelt and Omagh CBS from last year – with St Patrick’s Armagh completing the group.

The final group has the St Patrick’s schools in Maghera and Cavan joined by St Eunan’s Letterkenny and Holy Trinity Cookstown.

The competition will operate on the same format as last year with the top team in each group going through to the semi-finals of the MacCormack Cup, while the bottom two teams in each group will be involved in cross-group play-offs to remain in the competition after the Christmas break.

The Danske Bank MacLarnon Cup also contains 16 teams, including champions St Patrick’s Downpatrick who will start their campaign with a derby fixture against St Malachy’s Castlewellan. The pair met in last year’s MacLarnon quarter-final when extra time was required to separate them.

There are also 16 teams in the Markey Cup, 20 in the Faul Cup, 14 in the Ward Cup and a further 10 in the Nolan Cup, making a grand total of 92 schools competing at senior level in football.

The numbers are not quite as impressive in hurling although 33 teams will compete across the three different levels of competition.

Recent winners Cross and Passion Ballycastle and St Patrick’s Maghera have both been drawn in the same Mageean Cup group, along with St Mary’s CBGS Belfast while last season’s Casement Cup winners Scoileanna Thír Eoghain will be up against St Killian’s Garron Tower and St Louis Ballymena when the competition starts on the last weekend of September.

Down will be well represented in the Danske Bank Casement Cup by St Patrick’s Downpatrick, St Colman’s Newry and Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s Knock, while Rosses Community School from Dungloe is a new addition to second tier hurling at senior level

Ulster Schools’ Chairman Jimmy Smyth in launching the Council’s programme of competitions for the season ahead recognised the “tremendous work being done in promoting our games in all schools.”
“In total there are over 140 different schools and amalgamations taking part this year in the 72 competitions that Ulster Schools’ GAA Council run and more than 2000 games will take place over the course of the next ten months.

“That involves a huge effort from the schools and from our officers and competition co-ordinators, all of whom volunteer their services and we really appreciate this.

“We are also indebted to the clubs who provide us with their facilities throughout the year, often in very inclement weather.”

Oonagh Murtagh Head of South Business Centre at Danske Bank said: “Supporting the Ulster Schools GAA competition is a central part of our support for local communities, alongside our other strong youth partnerships with Schools’ Cup Rugby and the Northern Ireland Schools Football Association.

Over the many years of our sponsorship, we’ve seen the competition in schools across the country grow from strength to strength in developing skills on and off the pitch. We see more and more players excel in their schools and clubs, and then moving on into their counties.

We’re looking forward to the competition this year, and the reveal of the 2019-20 Hurling and Football All Stars as well as who’ll clinch the ultimate McLarnon, McRory and Mageean Cup throughout the season.”