All Island Cup competition interests new Northern Ireland Football League Chief Executive Gerard Lawlor

Recently appointed Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Football League, Gerard Lawlor, hopes to create a league that teams such as Derry City would like to join.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 9:02 am
Derry City midfielder Barry Molloy celebrates scoring against Linfield in 2012 Setanta Cup. Picture by Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker

The Belfast native, who starts his new position later this year, has never been in favour of an All Island League but the return of a cup competition, similar to the Setanta Cup, does interest him.

Lawlor believes if NIFL clubs make the move to a summer league then an All Island Cup competition could be easier to put into place.

“It isn’t aimed at Derry City but what I’m saying is that it’s my job to create an organisation that people want to join,” he stated.

“We will look at every opportunity to develop our league and make our league better and if some clubs in the League of Ireland wanted to come and join us and have that conversion with us, we would definitely welcome those conversions, no matter who the club is.

“People have been talking about All Island football and obviously some of our clubs thought going to play in that league gives them better opportunities so all I’m saying is, if we are professional, get our ducks in a row, then why wouldn’t clubs from other leagues, and down south is the obvious one, want to come and play north of the border, be that whoever.

“The All Island League model which was on the table, I never thought it was the right one and I still don’t believe it is totally the way forward but I do think and do believe a model of maybe an All Island League Cup is possible.

“We did the Setanta Cup and it was very good for a period so can we take the lessons and the learnings from the Setanta Cup. Could we play a League Cup across the island? I wouldn’t shoot that down.

“When we talk about summer football we have got to make a decision because we are all fed up talking about it and if the two seasons were a little more level that might give us those opportunities, but is an All Island League on the agenda? No, and my job is to project, grow and flourish NIFL and, as I said, in the future if clubs in the south are say not happy or maybe there’s better prospects in our league for them, then it’s something that maybe we have to look at then.”