Cookstown RFC have been dramatically ejected from a McCambley Cup semi-final derbyshowdown with Rainey Old Boys due to fielding an ineligible player.
A protest was launched by Malone RFC after they were beaten27-3 by Cookstown in the quarter-final.
Their plea was upheld by Ulster Branch due to the registration dates of a player who, it transpired, is eligible for the league only and not for the McCambley Cup.
“Having comprehensively beaten Malone on the pitch the boys are obviously disappointed with the Branch’s decision to overturn the result on the basis that one of our players was eligible to play for us in the league but not the cup,” said Cookstown’s captain, Liam Currie.
“We are disappointed for our committee members, our generous sponsors and our supporters. However the objective of winning silverware in this anniversary year of our club is still achievable.
“We are currently top of our league and the eventual winners will go head to head against the winners of the other sections for the Ravenhill Cup, a final which we contested three years ago.
“If we win our section we will play Malone again in the semi-final at MUSA on 2 May.
“I am impressed with how boys have regrouped and focused their attentions to this cup. Hopefully we can deliver silverware to the club for the first time in its history.
“I would also like to wish neighbours Rainey Old Boys IV the best of luck in their semi-final. They are a young, emerging team which is a testament to the Rainey youth system. Let’s hope they do Mid-Ulster proud,” he concluded.