Sunday 19 January 2020

Derry fury as U-21 semi-finals are rained off

Harps’ next scheduled home game is against Cork City on July 14. Stock photo: Sportsfile
Harps’ next scheduled home game is against Cork City on July 14. Stock photo: Sportsfile Sportsdesk

Last night's postponed Derry v Armagh Ulster U-21 semi-final will now be played in Celtic Park after the Oak Leafers rejected a return to Omagh.

The game was called off less than half an hour before throw-in at Healy Park last night after freak heavy rain in the area, and the counties decide to toss for home venue.

Healy Park has had drainage problems in the past, most recently forcing the postponement of Tyrone's league clash with Cavan last month.

Derry U-21 manager Fergal P McCusker last night claimed: "We have said we don't want to come back here because the pitch obviously isn't suitable".

"It's not fit for purpose.

"We did predict this would happen. It's very disappointing when you prepare and have a 120-mile journey in the middle of the week.

"We sent an email (to the Ulster Council) last week to say we would toss and play at the Athletic Grounds or Celtic Park or even the Dub (in Belfast), but apparently it hasn't the capacity to cope with the crowd they'd expect for this.

"Its seating capacity is in the hundreds rather than the thousands, but at least the pitch would be playable and we'd get the game."

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The Donegal v Cavan semi-final in Brewster Park, Enniskillen was also called off last night, leaving the Ulster Council with a fixtures headache.

Both games will now be played next Wednesday, April 5 - the original date of the Ulster final - meaning the decider will now be played on April 12, just three days before a proposed All-Ireland semi-final.

The Ulster Council may request a deferral of their Eirgrid All-Ireland U-21 football championship semi-final against Leinster champions Dublin.

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