Bosses vent fury over fixtures doubts for postponed games
There's growing anger among counties over the rescheduling of Allianz League games which fell victim to the bad weather last weekend.
Division 2 had two games called off, while in Division 4 only Carlow have completed six of the seven rounds. Now there's a doubt over whether some of the games will be played at all.
"It's very unsatisfactory," said Waterford manager Tom McGlinchey. "The league is an important competition - every game should be played. Counties want to finish as high up the table as they can. Would it happen in Division 1, I wonder? I think we all know the answer to that."
Waterford play London this weekend but there's still uncertainty over when, or indeed if, their clash with Leitrim will go ahead.
"We suggested playing it on a Wednesday evening in late April and were even prepared to go to Abbotstown for a halfway house with Leitrim, who were also agreeable but that was shot down by Croke Park," explained McGlinchey.
"If it goes ahead on any weekend, it will seriously disrupt our club fixtures because a lot of our lads play hurling as well as football. Playing Leitrim midweek later in the month would be perfect for championship preparations"
Limerick manager Billy Lee is also annoyed by the lack of certainty over their game with Wicklow, which was called off twice last weekend.
"It was well known that the Aughrim pitch was more suitable for the Winter Olympics than football but we weren't told the game was off until 8.20 on Monday morning," he said.
There's also a doubt over when that game will go ahead.
"I know we had two extreme weather situations in March but counties are entitled to more clarity about re-fixtures," explained Lee.
"Counties should also be allowed to play the games on dates that suit them. If this was in Division 1, I bet it would be different. What's going on is not acceptable."
McGlinchey is adamant that all games across all divisions should be played, irrespective of whether they impact on promotion or relegation.
The Waterford football manager added: “We could easily pull out of our game against London this weekend and take the fine for giving a walkover.
“Not going Ruislip would save the county board a lot of money but we wouldn’t do that out of respect to the London players, Ciaran Deely (manager) and, most of all, the league. It’s one of only two national competitions and deserves to be treated properly.
“Also, with the championship coming up, you want to give players as much game time as possible. The league was crammed into two months, which was always going to be difficult to run off.
“Now that problems have arisen, it’s important for the integrity of the competition that all the games go ahead but it should be done in co-operation with the counties.
“If all the games don’t have to be played in Division 4, why not elsewhere? Donegal against Mayo is the only game that decides anything in Division 1 this weekend but there’s no question of not playing the other three.”
One game that definitely won’t be played is Leitrim v London as the Connacht men have conceded a walkover rather than travel to Ruislip.
While Division 4 has the most unplayed games, Division 2 also has some outstanding issues. If the promotion places are decided tomorrow (Roscommon, Cavan and Tipperary are in contention), the final will go ahead next weekend. Otherwise, it will be put back a week, with the postponed Louth v Meath and Down v Tipperary games being played next weekend.
Meanwhile, Tipperary hurling boss Michael Ryan has continued his experimentation for tomorrow’s rescheduled league quarter-final against Dublin with All-Star duo Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher and Cathal Barrett notable omissions from last week’s side.
With other regulars like Noel McGrath, Seamus Callanan (injured) and Dan McCormack also absent from the match-day 26, young guns like Billy McCarthy, Sean Curran and Cian Darcy get a chance to impress.
Kiladangan’s Alan Flynn and Paudie Feehan both get more game-time to stake a claim for inclusion in defence, while goalkeeper Brian Hogan gets another opportunity to shine in the Croke Park clash (1.0)
Pat Gilroy’s Dubs make one alteration with James Madden coming in at wing-back for former captain Johnny McCaffrey, while Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald has named vice-captain Lee Chin on the bench for their last-eight tie with league and All-Ireland champions Galway.
Elsewhere, Tyrone’s Pádraig McNulty will play no further part in this year’s league having failed in his bid to have a one-match suspension overturned.
The Red Hand midfielder was shown a straight red card by referee Maurice Deegan following a heavy challenge on Lee Keegan in last week’s Division 1 FL win over Mayo, an incident which left the 2016 Footballer of the Year with a dislocated shoulder ruling him out of action for eight weeks.