SINCE it was launched in 1986, the Ulster Senior League has not seen its participating numbers so low.
The 2015/16 gets underway this weekend with a round of games in the Donegal News Ulster Senior League Cup.
Just six teams will compete in the League this season with Cockhill Celtic – the double winners of the last three seasons – joined by Bonagee United, Derry City Reserves, Letterkenny Rovers and Swilly Rovers, as well as the return of Fanad United, 13 times winners of the League.
The return to winter football has been a big talking point and League officials are hopeful that the change in season can breathe new life into intermediate football in Donegal.
Picture caption: Player from the six Ulster Senior League clubs, Jimmy Bradley (Cockhill Celtic), Dan O’Donnell (Letterkenny Rovers), Davitt Walsh (Fanad United), Aiden McLaughlin (Bonagee United), Conor Tourish (Derry City Reserves) and Laurence Toland (Swilly Rovers). Donegal Sport Hub will have interviews with all six clubs in the coming days. Picture courtesy of Stephen Doherty.
“We’re looking down the barrel of a gun here, but intermediate football is something that we just have to retain,” USL Public Relations Officer Paul McGovern told Charlie Collins of Donegal Sport Hub.
“Our numbers have gone down. The return to winter football, hopefully, will spark a bit more interest and we can get a good season under our belts now. We’ll reavulate and hopefully get another team or two in for next season.
“A ten-team League would be ideal and a twelve-team League would be brillant. We’re down now to the lowest numbers since the League’s inception so we’re building from a low base.
“The quality is there and we know that because we have won the Inter-League competition for the last two years.”
Listen to the full interview below …