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Thurles cancellation creates complicated fixture logjam

THE GAA is facing a potential fixtures logjam after the glamour NHL showdown between Tipp and Kilkenny was postponed for a second time in 72 hours.

More snowfall at just the wrong time forced Westmeath referee Barry Kelly to pull the plug, for health and safety reasons, on this seemingly cursed repeat of last year's All-Ireland final. Around 3,200 patrons had already come through the Semple Stadium turnstiles for free when the decision was made, 35 minutes before the 8pm throw-in.

The problem now, though, is finding an alternative date in a crowded calendar. The 'free' weekend of March 6/7 looks the obvious choice for the CCCC - but Kilkenny secretary Ned Quinn was quick to suggest this could be problematic for both counties.

"I'm concerned that it might be forced on us to play it on the sixth or seventh, which is Fitzgibbon (Cup) weekend and I think there's eight players between both teams," Quinn explained. "I hope not, because it's not fair to have to make a call between the county and the college."

Otherwise, though, the fixture-makers are restricted in terms of available dates - the only alternative weekends are April 10/11 and April 24/25. It seems highly unlikely that they'd go for the latter date, since the league programe is scheduled to finish the previous week and all final round games are meant to be played simultaneously to prevent any team gaining an advantage. It remains to be seen whether the CCCC will consider the get-out solution of another midweek date -- or whether Tipp and Kilkenny would be agreeable to such a plan. The Division One final is pencilled in for May 2.

Quinn defended the decision reached by both counties to reschedule last night's game so quickly after Saturday's postponement: "We didn't foresee that we'd have the same weather again. I don't think anyone could have."


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