Friday 20 April 2018

Byrne hits out at GPA and GAA over Louth turnaround

Byrne: "We trained for six or seven months of the year for the Meath game and to be beaten in that game and asked to play six days later is very frustrating." Picture: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Louth footballer Declan Byrne has voiced his frustration with the GPA, claiming that they should have stepped in to avoid the six-day turnaround that contributed to the Wee County's Championship exit.

After losing the Leinster quarter-final to Meath, Louth were plunged into a Qualifier against Derry away from home less than a week later.

Derry won by five points as Louth visibly wilted in the final 20 minutes and goal-scorer Byrne was sent off for dissent in stoppage-time.

And Byrne insists that Louth were not treated with "equality and fairness", citing the example of the case where Meath, beaten by Dublin in Sunday's provincial semi-final, now have a two-week break to prepare for their Qualifier against Derry.

Byrne told LMFM: "That's the ultimate word - frustration. We trained for six or seven months of the year for the Meath game and to be beaten in that game and asked to play six days later is very frustrating.

"It took its toll mentally and physically on us. We never got to the pitch of it (against Derry), especially in the last 20 minutes. We ran out of steam.


"We were frustrated that we had to fulfil the fixture. The GPA are the organisation that should have come in on that. They speak about player welfare but nothing materialised."

Louth beat Carlow to set up the Meath clash but they were waiting four weeks between those games, before being asked to go again six days later against Derry.

And Byrne admitted: "There are days where you get a wee bit low over it. The gap from the Carlow to the Meath games was ridiculous.

"A three-week period would have given us an extra week to prepare for the Qualifiers. We were training for 6-8 months of the year and for it all to be gone in a two-week period is extremely, extremely frustrating.

"It does get players down, especially when you hear of the decision made with the Dublin-Meath game, to give the losers a two-week gap. In the GAA, what we expect is a wee bit of fairness. I don't believe we got that.

"After we played Meath, the immediate feeling was deflation and it will take you three or four days to get over that feeling - not taking into consideration the knocks we picked up.

"Conal McKeever picked up a knock against Meath and if he had been given two weeks, he might have been able to contribute against Derry but he wasn't able to play.

"James Stewart, ten minutes into the second half against Derry, was completely out on his feet.

"I would ask them (GAA) to think about it over the next while. We speak about equality and fairness in the GAA but I don't believe that we were treated in the same fashion as a bigger county would have been."

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