Thursday 18 October 2018

Fixture chaos looms

Martin Breheny and Vincent Hogan

THE postponement of yesterday's Division Two league clash between Dublin and Armagh leaves both facing a hectic three-match schedule in eight days, starting next Saturday.

With worries over burnout forcing their way up the GAA agenda, there will be concerns over asking amateur players to play three important games in such a short space of time.

However, with the last round of the League due for completion on Sunday week, there's no room for manoeuvre. The Armagh-Dublin clash has been re-fixed for Crossmaglen on Wednesday week and patrons will be allowed in free.

There was considerable anger at the late postponement -- from supporters and team mentors -- but local officials insisted the pitch was playable until two sustained hail showers fell between noon and 1.30.

Referee Derek Fahy said there was too much surface water on the pitch to allow the game to go ahead in safety. However, Armagh manager Peter McDonnell expressed frustration at the decision.

"The field is drying out well now and matches have been played in worse conditions this year. There was surface water earlier and it most certainly wasn't safe. But that field is drying out well," he said.

"The referee had a decision to make. He gave the impression that he was time-bound in relation to that decision but, if he had waited another 30 minutes, we would have had a different type of day."

A similar view was echoed by Dublin secretary John Costello, who said: "We were hoping they (the officials) could have waited a half an hour."

This was the third time that a League game involving Dublin had been disrupted this season. Their second-round clash with Cork was called off due to the players' strike on Leeside, while their fourth round game against Monaghan was postponed when a pre-match downpour left Parnell Park unplayable.

Meanwhile, Monaghan availed of the Armagh-Dublin cancellation to move into top spot in Division 2 after beating Meath. Galway are outright leaders in Division 1 after beating Derry while wins for Mayo and Tyrone have left Laois all but relegated. Technically they can still survive but the odds are piled high against them while Kildare are also in trouble after losing to Mayo.

Cork's win over Waterford in the NHL play-off leaves next Sunday's quarter-final line-up as follows: Cork v Limerick; Tipperary v Waterford.

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