McCartan delighted that Ulster Minor Tournament returns after Covid layoff

FonaCab St Paul’s Ulster Minor Tournament 

By Kevin Herron 

St Pauls Conor McCartan is excited for the return of the FonaCab Ulster Minor Tournament to the Shaws. 

It is 40-years since the West-Belfast club first hosted the prestigious club tournament and the 39th series, given the one-year absence due to Covid. 

McCartan admits that there were doubts as to whether the tournament would go ahead again in 2022 due to Covid and issues with age grades but is delighted for the return. 

“It’s great to get it back after Covid delays of a couple of years” insists McCartan. 

“At times we were wondering with Covid and everything else around the age grades and changes in the landscape of the GAA, whether it could come back, but we’re delighted to get it back at the new age of 17. God knows what it will be next year, depending on how things work out at Congress in February.

“This year it is great to have it at 17 and I suppose the activity and the amount of calls that we got from clubs and supporters last year when County Championships did happen, but this tournament didn’t. It was massive and it just reinforced for us, the kudos that the tournament is held in across Ulster and was the shot in the arm to make sure that we got it back for this year. We’re thankful for the Ulster Colleges and Ulster GAA to facilitate the tournament this year in 2022 at U-17”. 

McCartan acknowledged the tournament is very much a tradition and one that the Shaws Road club will continue to drive – as long as the want and will exists. 

“This will be the 39th tournament in our 40th year” revealed McCartan. 

“It is the tradition in our club, and it is now a tradition within minor level at all counties in Ulster. We drive it and as long as the need, will and the push is still there within the nine counties- we will keep pushing and driving this tournament. 

“It is a massive shot in the arm for us in terms of kudos and from the traditional point of view to keep the tournament running and remembering Jimmy McConville and the people who have made the tournament run and make it what it is over the last forty years. It is up to us keep it going and we’re just delighted to get it back this year”. 

McCartan admits that there was probably as bit more organisation for this year, due to the one-year absence and was keen to praise the volunteers that row in behind the club in helping it make it a success. 

“This year was slightly different because we were trying to return after Covid” admits McCartan. 

“There was probably a bit more organisation in it this year, in terms of trying to get approval. We’ve been doing it that long that the organisation runs like clockwork. We’ve a serious group of volunteers within the club that make this thing work. 

“From Communications with the clubs, the Ulster Council, Pitch maintenance the whole club row in behind it. It has that kind of kudos within the club that absolutely anyone that is needed, is there and we couldn’t do it without the volunteers. 

“There is a fair amount of work that goes into, but it is great, and it makes it worthwhile when we get through the games- particularly our flagship games on St Stephens Day and New Year’s Day. It makes it all worthwhile to see the joy on the potential winners faces”. 

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