Sunday 18 March 2018

U-turn will see Clare and Dublin battle it out on Saturday

Captain Faye O’Donoghue celebrates with her team-mates after Kerry’s victory over Galway in the All-Ireland U16A Ladies Football Championship final in Bruff
Captain Faye O’Donoghue celebrates with her team-mates after Kerry’s victory over Galway in the All-Ireland U16A Ladies Football Championship final in Bruff

Jackie Cahill

Clare manager Colm Honan and his Dublin counterpart Shane O'Brien have expressed relief after a coin toss farce was avoided when the Camogie Association finally agreed to a play-off between the counties on Saturday.

Following a public outcry, camogie top brass rowed back from their original plan to draw lots to determine which team would progress to the quarter-finals of the All-Ireland senior championship.

Clare and Dublin will now lock horns at Semple Stadium on Saturday for the right to face Wexford in the last eight next Monday. The winners will face the prospect of playing two games in three days and, while O'Brien admitted that it's not an ideal prospect, he acknowledged that it's far better than what had been originally proposed.

A host of top sports stars vented their fury on social media, including golfer Shane Lowry and former professional boxer Bernard Dunne.

And O'Brien said: "It's best we focus on the positive outcome.

"Obviously it's not ideal for whoever has to play on the Monday, with the two-day turnaround, but I'm just delighted that common sense has prevailed and that this will be settled on the field of play as opposed to in some committee room with a coin being tossed in the air.

"We're relieved more than anything that it has come to this and that the players have won out, not just the players in Dublin and Clare but throughout the country."

He added: "We were blown away by the level of support, from all the different high-profile sportspeople speaking out about it, and people getting on the radio about it today, former GAA presidents etc.

"The whole power of this has had a major influence on the decision that was taken."

After both teams finished level on points in the group standings, and played out a 1-8 to 1-8 draw along the way, points difference or a play-off was not considered originally by the Camogie Association, who instead opted to draw lots.

Former Clare hurler Honan said: "They said their Ard Chomhairle (Central Council) could not be questioned.

"That was the reason why they threw the objection out, they had made the decision at Ard Chomhairle.

"Like The Pope speaking ex cathedra, they could not be questioned."

Honan revealed that at training on Tuesday evening, a handful of players suggested that Clare take their chances on the coin toss but that 24 voted to boycott the competition.

Dublin and Clare released separate press releases to that effect before issuing a joint-statement yesterday morning via the Women's Gaelic Players Association (WGPA).

Honan said: "We had a very emotional meeting with the girls.

"They were very upset. There were a couple of girls, two or three, who said, 'Let's toss and see, we just want to play' but we couldn't accept that either as a realistic decision in terms of promoting the game.


"This could have been very easily resolved - as is now the case.

"Both boards were in contact with each other and supportive of the notion that neither board would take advantage of the possibility of winning the toss and taking that place in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

"Neither board wanted that. It was an extraordinary period of time."

Now that the matter has finally been resolved, Honan is looking forward to the prospect of Saturday's fixture, at a venue that has been good to Clare hurling in recent times.

He explained: "Some of our girls have never played in Thurles and a good number of our panel are new from last year.

"We have about eight that never played in Thurles and never been in the dressing rooms in Thurles.

"They've been at all the matches there with the Clare hurling teams down the years and now they're going to get to play in Thurles. And that's just fantastic for them."

O'Brien added: "No different than Clare, it's been emotionally draining, being left in limbo and not knowing whether we were coming or going.

"A lack of communication led to a lot of frustration but we have to move forward now and look forward to a game on Saturday.

"Hopefully we'll be in the media for the right reasons on Saturday."

Irish Independent

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