independent

Sunday 24 March 2019

Fixture to be rearranged

Weather the only winner as hurling derby is rained off

Referee Alan Kelly inspecting the rain-sodden Innovate Wexford Park pitch on Sunday
Referee Alan Kelly inspecting the rain-sodden Innovate Wexford Park pitch on Sunday

Brendan Furlong

There may have been a real urge for a game of hurling, particularly when it involved a clash against arch-rivals Kilkenny, but in the end the weather won out in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.

The decision was made by Galway referee Alan Kelly following a series of pitch inspections, with the pitch officially deemed unsafe for action at 1.25 p.m., 35 minutes before the scheduled 2 p.m. start.

With more than 3,000 supporters huddled into the back half of the stand as the driving rain continued to fall on an already heavily waterlogged surface, it came as no surprise given the state of the playing area that the man in black decided against proceeding with the game.

The sideline under the stand was heavily waterlogged, while there were pools of surface water all over the pitch, so much so that many supporters felt an earlier call could have been made, particularly as it had been raining incessantly all morning, following on from the heavy overnight rain.

Wexford manager, Davy Fitzgerald, said the correct call had been made.

'While we are disappointed the game is off, I feel the referee made the right call, he was left with no other decision.

'We were up for the game and looking forward to it. There are very few free Sundays in the calendar so the quarter-finals will go back.

'We had actually factored in for a week like this given what had happened last year. We've now had our free weekend so we look forward to next weekend.

'It's obviously disappointing for the players. They were prepared and wound up for today's game. Now they must wind down and re-focus for next weekend.

'It was a health and safety decision. It would not have been a hurling match as the game would have developed into a slogging match had it been played.'

Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, said people travelled long distances but the weather forced the decision to be made.

'I did not inspect the pitch but the referee made the call so the weather dictates. Obviously this will push everything back,' he said.

It was announced at lunchtime yesterday (Monday) that the game will now played next Sunday (10th) at the same venue at 2 p.m.

As a result, the quarter-finals will now take place on the St. Patrick's Bank Holiday weekend, with the semi-finals on the weekend of March 23-24.

The final will now be played on the same weekend as the football decider (March 30-31), with the C.C.C.C. keen to minimise disruption to club games already scheduled for April and May.

All tickets purchased for last Sunday will be valid for the re-fixture, and supporters are advised to bring their stub to the re-fixture to gain entry.

Alternatively, refunds can be sought from the source of purchase prior to the re-fixed game.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald stressed that he had decided to rest Pádraig Foley, Diarmuid O'Keeffe, Aidan Nolan and David Dunne ahead of last Sunday's postponed game, resulting in a number of changes in personnel from the side which lost to Clare.

Damien Reck, Simon Donohoe, Harry Kehoe, Paul Morris and Conor McDonald, who did not start the Clare game, were included in the chosen 15. Given the extra week's break, Fitzgerald may yet decide to revert to some of those absent players.

With Limerick and Clare having drawn in the only Division 1A game played, it leaves Wexford with a real opportunity to leapfrog over the latter into second place, with the reigning All-Ireland champions now having qualified for the knockout stages where they will play Laois next Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Wexford football manager, Paul McLoughlin, was delighted with the response of the players in their three-point victory over Wicklow in Aughrim.

'We played to a good plan and got the job done. We could have won by seven to eight points, but it was a solid gameplan and it won us the game,' he said.

'They played like men, did not panic, and stuck to the gameplan. This is a process and things will not happen overnight.'

Gorey Guardian

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