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Dr McKenna Cup

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dr McKenna Cup
Current season or competition:
2020 Dr McKenna Cup
Liam Bradley - 2009 McKenna Cup launch.jpg
Liam Bradley with the Dr. McKenna Cup
IrishCorn an Dochtúra Mac Cionnaith
CodeGaelic football
RegionUlster (GAA)
TrophyDr McKenna Cup
No. of teams12 (9 in 2020)
Title holdersTyrone (17th title)
First winnerMonaghan
Most titlesTyrone (17 titles)
SponsorsBank of Ireland
TV partner(s)TG4
MottoThe one good thing about January
Official website
Derry vs. Fermanagh in the 2008 competition
Derry vs. Fermanagh in the 2008 competition

The Dr McKenna Cup is an annual Gaelic football competition played between counties and universities in the province of Ulster. It is the secondary Gaelic football competition based in Ulster behind the Ulster Senior Football Championship, and the fourth most important inter-county competition in which Ulster counties take part, behind the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, the Ulster Championship and the National Football League.

Once held in high regard, in recent years the focus of the competition has changed, and some county teams have made use of it as a pre-season "warm up" competition ahead of the National League and Championship.[1] The addition of university teams has also changed the nature of the competition, but the generally high recent standard of Ulster football, combined with the variety in motivation has led to a less prestigious, but nonetheless intriguing competition.

Since 2016 the competition has been known—for sponsorship reasons—as the Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup.


Antrim manager Liam Bradley (left) with Armagh manager Peter McDonnell (right) at the launch of the 2009 competition
Antrim manager Liam Bradley (left) with Armagh manager Peter McDonnell (right) at the launch of the 2009 competition

The cup was donated to the Ulster Council in 1924 by the Most Rev. Dr McKenna, with the first tournament being played in 1927.[2]

When Dr Patrick McKenna, Catholic Bishop of Clogher, presented the McKenna Cup to the Ulster Council in 1925, he was one of only a small group willing at that time to be publicly associated with the GAA in Ulster. Ireland in the 1920s was slowly emerging from war, unrest and change.

When the Ulster Council sought donors for trophies there wasn’t a queue to their door with offers. From 1923 the council were actively looking for a donor for their senior championship and in 1925 the treasurer of the council proposed the establishment of a second competition to prepare teams for the championship.

Two loyal GAA stalwarts came to the council's rescue in 1925. JF O Hanlon, owner of The Anglo-Celt newspaper presented a trophy to BC Fay, secretary of the Council. It was decided to use the trophy for the Ulster senior championship and it was first presented to Cavan who won the 1925 Ulster championship. Treasurer O'Duffy was successful in securing a trophy from the bishop of Clogher and the new cup was presented to Council in 1925 although it was not until 1927 that the competition got underway.

The inaugural competition was won by Antrim, defeating Cavan in the final. Tyrone are the most successful team in the tournament with 16 wins. Fermanagh, with four wins, are the least successful of the county teams. The McKenna Cup is, to date, Fermanagh's only senior inter-county title.[3]

Addition of Universities

Action from the 2009 group game between University of Ulster, Jordanstown (UUJ) (blue) and Fermanagh (green)
Action from the 2009 group game between University of Ulster, Jordanstown (UUJ) (blue) and Fermanagh (green)

Until the early 2000s, the competition was purely an inter-county competition, but the Ulster counties allowed the two main Universities in Ulster, Queen's University, and the University of Ulster and St Mary's University College (a college of Queen's University). The stipulation of this was that University teams would have first choice for any player who is eligible to play for both the University team and the county team.

The University teams have, naturally, emerged as among the weaker teams, but are by no means the 'whipping boys' of the competition, having beaten teams such as Antrim in 2007,[4] and the added experience against playing teams of such a high standard is expected to be beneficial to the University teams in the principle Gaelic football competition for Irish universities, the Sigerson Cup. This initiative seems to be bearing fruit, given that the 2007 Sigerson Cup final was contested by Queen's University and University of Ulster - historically, universities in the south of Ireland have dominated.

2009 saw Queen's University Belfast become the first university side to reach the McKenna Cup final.[5]

2007 Tyrone ineligibility dispute

Tyrone caused controversy in 2007 when they fielded four players who had already been selected by University teams. The official rule is that Universities have first choice on players, so in effect, they were fielding ineligible players. Tyrone manager, Mickey Harte, claimed it was the players' own decision to choose to play for the county team over their University. Tyrone were docked two points as a punishment, but this did not affect their progression into the semi-final stage.[6]

Although Tyrone won the final, beating Donegal by 2-09 to 0-05, Tyrone were stripped of their title for fielding the ineligible University players in the match. The players had not been listed on the official team sheet, which was another breach of the rules.[7] However, Tyrone's victory was reinstated upon appeal.[8]

2013 withdrawal of Queen's

Ahead of the 2013 competition, Queen's University Belfast withdrew in a controversy over their players being poached by other teams,[9][10][11] though Ulster Council President Aogan Farrell had appealed for this practice to stop.[12]

2020 onward

In the 2020 competition, only county teams took part because of a fixture clash with the Sigerson Cup.[13] The competition was cancelled in 2021 due to fixture congestion caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; it is scheduled to return in 2022.[14]

Wins listed by team

# Team Wins Years won
Colours of Tyrone.svg
1957, 1973, 1978, 1982, 1984, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020
Colours of Monaghan.svg
1927, 1928, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1948, 1952, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1995, 2003
Colours of Laois.svg
1936, 1940, 1943, 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1962, 1968, 1988, 2000
Colours of Down.svg
1944, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1972, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2008
Colours of Cork.svg
1947, 1954, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1993, 1999, 2011
Colours of Leitrim.svg
1963, 1965, 1967, 1975, 1985, 1991, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2018
Colours of Armagh.svg
1929, 1931, 1938, 1939, 1949, 1950, 1986, 1990, 1994
Colours of Antrim.svg
1941, 1942, 1945, 1946, 1966, 1981
Colours of Leinster Council.svg
1930, 1933, 1977, 1997


From 2007, the games were broadcast live on Irish language channel, TG4.[15] The 2015 final between Tyrone and Cavan was shown live on BBC Sport NI's red button service and on its website. This, along with the fact that attendances are in the region of 20,000 for the later matches,[16] suggests that the tournament is held in higher esteem than its counterparts in other provinces, such as the O'Byrne Cup.

See also


  1. ^ Heaney, Paddy (12 November 2008). "Orchard to pilot new approach in McKenna". The Irish News. p. 62. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  2. ^ Ulster GAA Archived August 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Mullan, Bernie (2003-01-10). "Cup a quiet start to Moran's third stint". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  4. ^ "Antrim 1-8 1-14 UUJ". BBC News. 21 January 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  5. ^ Woods, Ciaran (23 January 2009). "Class of '09 comes good!". Gaelic Life. p. 7.
  6. ^ "Red Hands lose McKenna Cup points". BBC News. 24 January 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Tyrone stripped of McKenna Cup". BBC News. 15 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
  8. ^ "Tyrone reinstated as Dr. McKenna Cup Champions". BBC News. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
  9. ^ "Queen's withdraw from McKenna Cup over player availability row". BBC Sport. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Queen's University could withdraw from 2013 McKenna Cup". BBC Sport. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  11. ^ McKeon, Conor (20 December 2012). "Queen's quit McKenna Cup". Evening Herald. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Ulster GAA chief wants fair play for colleges in McKenna Cup". BBC Sport. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Tyrone claim eighth McKenna Cup in nine years with victory over Monaghan". independent.
  14. ^ "Championship dates switch proposed" – via
  15. ^ "TG4 to show McKenna Cup games". 21 December 2006.
  16. ^ "McKenna Cup in sponsorship boost". BBC News. 30 October 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2010.

External links

This page was last edited on 24 December 2020, at 21:17
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