THE Ulster Senior League Executive Committee were due to convene last night, Thursday, to discuss the possible restructuring of fixtures for the forthcoming season after it was confirmed Buncrana Hearts pulled out of the league.
Despite paying their affiliation fees for the new season, rumours have been rife in recent weeks that the Inishowen club were considering withdrawing from the league.
Buncrana, who won the league in 1992/93, were one of the founding members of the Ulster Senior League when it was formed 27 years ago and speaking to the Donegal News this week, League Secretary Mark Duffy admitted it was a blow to lose a club that has shared such a longstanding relationship with the USL.
“From a league point of view, it’s very disappointing because Buncrana was one of the founding members of the league back in 1986,” said Duffy.
“Buncrana is probably the second biggest town in the county so it’s disappointing they don’t have an Intermediate team – I know there’s Cockhill – but it must be a blow to all involved. “From what I understand they’ve been struggling to put out a team. I think they’ve had players who have been forced to emigrate in search of employment, as well as several not available due to college commitments, so it seems like an economic factor as much as anything. On behalf of the league, I’d like to wish them all the best in the future.”
The USL had seen the number of teams rise from 9 to 10 with the return of a second string Finn Harps team, which paved the way for a return to a two series of fixtures after last season saw teams play each other three times.
However, Buncrana’s withdrawal now means the Executive Committee must decide what to do with the fixtures for the new season, which begins in earnest next weekend with the start of the Donegal News League-Cup before the League itself gets underway on the final weekend of April.
“The League-Cup won’t really be affected,” added Duffy. “It just means one group will now have four teams and the other will remain at five, but we’ll have to meet to discuss what we do with the league fixtures.”
Buncrana are now the second team in as many years to withdraw from the USL following the departure of Killea at the start of last season.
Earlier this week, club secretary Paddy Corr released a short statement on behalf of the club, which read: “Buncrana Hearts FC wish to regrettably announce that it will not be fielding a team in the Ulster Senior League this season. The club intend to apply to the Inishowen League to field a 1st and reserve side in their competitions for the 2013-14 season. The Club will continue teams in all age groups in the Inishowen Youth League.”
The selection, to celebrate 30 full seasons of the Ulster Senior League, which first came into being in the...