David Whitten hopes Queen’s put play-off disappointment behind them

Queen’s captain David Whitten was in Dublin earlier this week collecting his All Ireland League Division 2A Men’s Player of the Year award and the flanker hopes to end the season by lifting the Senior Cup.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Saturday, 14th May 2022, 6:00 am

Queen’s, who have won the competition a record 23 times, face Armagh at Kingspan Stadium this afternoon (kick-off 3.30pm).

“It’s obviously nice to get the recognition from the other clubs in the league,” said Whitten. “I think there were a lot of players that could have won it out of our Queen’s team and players from a number of other clubs, so it is nice to get that recognition.

“It would be brilliant to lift the cup, I have loved every minute playing for Queen’s it would be great to win something and get that accolade because we deserve it as a group.

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Queen’s captain David Whitten. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

“It’s a great team to be part of and a great bunch of lads and it has been a real tight group this year. Part of me would love to win it but part of me is going don’t get ahead of yourself just go out and play the game. If I get a chance to lift the Senior Cup at the end of the game, I’ll take great pride in it.”

Whitten and his team are still reeling after missing out on promotion to Division 1B after losing the play-off final 18-17 to Buccaneers at the Dub.

“It has been a hard week and a half, and I felt that we should be up right now, I feel I should be putting a different spin on it and being asked different questions because to win the league by 14 points and yet we don’t get promoted seems a bit strange,” he said. “It is hard to get my head around and it has been pretty demoralising.

“The cup final does give us a chance to respond. We have found it tough as a group of how it all went down, if you sat and looked at our season objectively you would say it has been really successful... won the league by 14 points, you are the most consistent side, you are one game away from winning the Ulster Senior League and you are in a Senior Cup final and that is a seriously successful year for Queen’s.

“It is hard to get away from what happened in the play-off final, you have to question the integrity of the league when the league winner doesn’t get promoted, clubs in the other leagues like Old Wesley and Greystones will be feeling the same.

“There is an opportunity for us to park it in the Senior Cup final, we will be the underdogs but we’ll go out and try and play as much rugby as we can and put as much pressure on Armagh as we can, that is all you can really do.

“In the Buccs game things really didn’t go our way, there was a lot of pressure on us in that game, when you get to a play-off final a lot can go against you like the weather and refereeing decisions and it sort of felt like that.

“We’ll be in a good place for the Senior Cup final we are becoming more experienced with the whole process. Each time you’re in a cup final you can take learnings from it and hopefully we can take learnings from this year and put them into Saturday.”

Queen’s first won the cup in 1886 and the last victory was in 2014, Whitten hopes this group of players can add to the club’s rich history in the competition.

“We haven’t really talked about the history, I think everybody sort of knows it, it is a great record to have at Queen’s and it is a while since we have been to the final the last time my brother Robert was playing in it and they won,” he said.

“It’s nice to be back and I’m sure the Queen’s old boys will be taking a keen interest in it and hopefully we can add to the record Queen’s have but it will be a tough game.”