Return to winter football a real possibility in USL

Return to winter football a real possibility in USL
A move back to winter football in the Ulster Senior League has moved a step closer with the news that an EGM will take place next month.

A move back to winter football in the Ulster Senior League has moved a step closer with the news that an EGM will take place next month.

The meeting is being called for delegates to vote on a rule change which would allow for the matter to be dealt with at the league’s AGM in early December.

The winter/summer season has been a contentious issue within the Ulster Senior league since summer football was introduced in 2007.

In recent seasons, the return to winter football has been receiving more support and while the league voted against a change at last year’s AGM, it’s thought there will be enough backing this time round.

It’s thought clubs are not happy at the fact that players are able to transfer away from the USL before the season ends, in order to play winter football in other leagues. Some clubs have been hit worse than others by those transfers and not surprisingly, the league itself has suffered as a result.

This week, Letterkenny Rovers secretary, Eric White confirmed that his club has changed its position on the winter/summer debate has agreed to vote for a return to winter football. “We’ve taken our decision to protect the integrity of the league,” Eric White said.

“What’s been going on this season is nothing short of farcical. We haven’t been too badly effected by players leaving because we can dip into our U-19s. But there are players who aren’t showing any loyalty to clubs. They just want to play football all year round and are able to leave the USL before the season ends.”

While no firm decision will be made until the AGM, there is already some discussion over the timeframe for a shorter season in 2014. It’s thought the league is considering running their season between early January and late May.

The new 2014/15 winter season would then begin in August.

Meanwhile the draw for the next round of the FAI Intermediate Cup will be made in Dublin next Tuesday. Three clubs from the Ulster Senior League - Cockhill Celtic, Letterkenny Rovers and Swilly Rovers - are through to the national stages following last weekend’s round of fixtures.

Swilly manager, Jason Gibson, said yesterday that he’s keeping his fingers crossed for a home draw in the next round. “There’s always a big interest in the Intermediate Cup at this club and if we got a home draw in the next round it would be great.

“If we get the right kind of draw, we could get a big crowd at Swilly Park and it would be fantastic for everyone involved.”

Last season, Swilly Rovers got to the national stages only to be beaten in Dublin. “I think we’re in a better position this season to put a bit of a run together,” he said.

“Mind you, we’re in the same boat as a number of other clubs in the league in that we’ve lost players who are either injured or have transferred away from us.

“It’s not ideal but there’s not much we can do about it.”