GAA hits back in row over cancelled games
The GAA have strongly defended the decision to cancel three Allianz League Division 4 football games, which were not played due to the severe weather over two weekends early this month.
The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) declared the Waterford-Leitrim, Wicklow-Limerick and Laois-Antrim games 'null and void', drawing criticism from three managers and the GPA.
Managers Tom McGlinchey (Waterford), Billy Lee (Limerick) and John Evans (Wicklow) all vented their anger over the cancellations, arguing that the games could have been allocated midweek dates in order to maintain the integrity of the Division 4 schedule.
The GPA expressed disappointment that players in the counties involved were not asked for an input, with the players' body stating that "there is no excuse for not consulting players before announcing the cancellations".
Feargal McGill, GAA head of games, said the decision to declare the three fixtures null and void was down to a straightforward choice between interfering with pre-arranged club fixtures or rearranging games that were not important in terms of deciding who would be promoted from Division 4.
"If any of the counties involved were still in the promotion race, their games would have been played. Two outstanding games in Division 2 have to go ahead because they impact on relegation," he said.
"The easiest thing in the world for the CCCC to do would be to fix the postponed Division 4 games, but we felt that would be unfair on clubs. We asked the counties involved if they could agree to play the games either next weekend or the weekend after in the case of Laois v Antrim.
"Unfortunately, that was not possible as counties had club fixtures arranged and they did not want to disrupt them. In those circumstances, we felt the best thing to do was to declare the three games null and void."
McGill refuted suggestions that if a similar situation had arisen in Division 1, the games would have gone ahead.
"Absolutely not. Our decision had nothing to do with the division involved," he said.
Proposals from the counties to play the Leitrim-Waterford and Limerick-Wicklow games in midweek were rejected by CCCC on the grounds that it would be unfair on players.
"Irrespective of where Leitrim and Waterford and Limerick and Wicklow were played midweek, it would involve players taking at least a half-day off work or college and we could not stand over that," said McGill.
He rejected the GPA's argument over a lack of consultation with players in the counties involved, pointing out that they could have made their views known to their county officials.
"We'll take feedback from anyone but we have to make decisions too," he said. "And in this case, we had to decide between re-scheduling three games that would have no impact on promotion or allowing club programmes involving hundreds of players to go ahead.
"We made a principled call, based on what we thought was right for clubs, who had been told quite some time ago that April would be their month.
"It's unfortunate that the league fixtures were so badly disrupted in March. The fact is that they were and we had to deal with it as best we could."