The weekend’s semi-final replays have set up a somewhat unique Ulster football final. Although both Donegal and Tyrone have been victorious in six of the last nine Ulster championships between them – three each – this is the first time the current generation of Donegal and Tyrone players will meet in a final.
The bordering counties meet for only the third time in the history of Ulster title deciders. The last of those took place 27 years ago, when Tyrone emerged as champions after a replay. Prior to that the counties met in 1972, which would mark the first time that Donegal won the Anglo-Celt trophy.
With high interest in the game, Sunday Game pundit Ciaran Whelan suggested that both teams would like to play it in Croke Park and that the bigger capacity at the stadium would cater for the interest among neutrals. While GAA authorities reportedly considered the venue, it is understood that the final will be played in Clones, which has hosted each of the Ulster finals since 2007.
Speaking at the GAA headquarters ahead of the launch of Etihad Airways GAA World Games playing attire, Donegal’s Martin McElhinney showed his delight at the final being staged in Clones, rather than Croke Park.
“There was some talk about making it a double header in Croke Park but I wouldn’t want to bring it here because the close proximity of the crowd in Cavan – the fans were in on top of you – creates a real atmosphere whereas if you bring it here it might lose that. At the end of the day we’re all from Ulster and we want to play our big games in Ulster”, he said
He added, “If you want to play in an Ulster final, you want to play it in Clones. It’s a great day out in Clones and it’s a serious pitch. We love nothing better than driving into Clones on a Sunday for an Ulster final.”
The Ulster final has been confirmed for a 2.00pm throw-in at Clones on Sunday, July 17th.
The game will be preceded by the Ulster Minor final between Donegal and Derry at 12 noon.