Thursday 19 July 2018

Light at end of tunnel for fixtures

Football league finals to go ahead as planned on Easter Sunday if Cavan and Laois win weekend matches

Dara McVeety and his Cavan team-mates will be hoping to clinch promotion on Sunday by beating Tipperary. Photo: Sportsfile
Dara McVeety and his Cavan team-mates will be hoping to clinch promotion on Sunday by beating Tipperary. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Wins for Cavan in Division 2 and Laois in Division 4 of the Allianz Football League on Sunday would prevent another fixtures headache for the GAA.

That's what's required for the football finals to remain on schedule after the GAA's Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) opted to press ahead with the final round of fixtures as planned instead of using this weekend to catch up on outstanding fixtures that fell foul of the weather.

Some of the postponed games will not be played if Sunday's results render them meaningless.

That decision won't sit easily with many counties, who would have preferred if every team played their last match on the same day at the same time - as is the norm.

Tipperary (currently on 7 points from 5 games) travel to Cavan (9pts from 6 games) on Sunday for a match they must win to stay in the hunt for promotion to the top flight.

Should Cavan win, they'll be promoted along with Roscommon (9pts from 6), even if the latter lose at home to Cork (6pts from 6 games) at Dr Hyde Park.

A home win for Cavan would guarantee Kevin McStay's side a quick return to Division 1 as they have the head-to-head advantage from their second-round win over Tipperary, whose outstanding fixture against Down would be a dead rubber in that scenario.

The relegation picture from Division 2 would be just as clear if Down were to beat Meath in Navan on Sunday, elevating themselves to the safety of six points and out of reach of second-from-bottom Meath, who would still have their fixture with Louth to play, potentially taking them to five points.

The only downside to pressing ahead with the final round in this manner would come if Roscommon and Cavan lost and Down beat the struggling Royals.

In that scenario, Tipperary would have the advantage of playing a team whose status would be already secure (Down) - much different to having to play them this weekend with their league status still on the line.

In Division 4, Carlow's promotion, courtesy of a great win against hosts Antrim last weekend, has made the permutations for the final round much simpler.

A Laois win in Netwatch Cullen Park over Turlough O'Brien's side would ensure that they join their hosts in Division 3 and contest the league final.

In that scenario, the outstanding game between Laois and Antrim would become irrelevant to the final as Antrim wouldn't be able to catch the top two, having dropped two points to Carlow and drawn with Wicklow.

Leitrim have already conceded their outstanding game against London which went by the wayside as part of the blanket postponement of games when Storm Emma struck at the beginning of the month.

Postponed

If their game against Waterford, postponed last weekend because of the weather, does not go ahead that would leave them with just a five-match league programme.

The GAA had initially signalled that outstanding Division 4 games would be played on the weekend of Saturday, March 31/Sunday, April 1 but events in Corrigan Park have presented a clearer landscape.

Division 1 and Division 3 have been impacted less by the weather and both finals have remained on schedule.

As expected, the Division 1 hurling final has been put back until Sunday, April 8.

Both outstanding quarter-finals have been re-fixed for this weekend with Wexford and Galway going ahead at Innovate Wexford Park with a 3pm throw-in on Saturday.

Dublin now host Tipperary in Croke Park at 1pm as the curtain-raiser to Dublin's final Allianz Football League Division 1 game against Monaghan which has little relevance as Dublin and Galway are already qualified for the final and Monaghan have preserved Division 1 status for a fifth successive year.

The hurling semi-finals, Kilkenny against the winners of Wexford and Galway, and Limerick against Tipperary/Dublin, are scheduled for Saturday, March 31, to avoid a clash with the Division 1 football league final which has a 4pm throw-in on Easter Sunday.

The All-Ireland club hurling final replay has been fixed for O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, on Saturday evening at 5.30, with the re-fixed Division 2A final between Westmeath and Carlow on at the same venue beforehand, throwing in at 3.30.

The GAA has come under fire over fixture rescheduling, especially attempts to switch games postponed last Sunday to the Bank Holiday Monday.

Speaking after Monday's epic quarter-final win over Clare, Limerick manager John Kiely admitted it "ruined" their weekend in one sense but he backed the decision to put off the game initially by 24 hours.

"If you even take my own mother, she is 80 years of age and loves coming to the matches. They can't come to matches in conditions like Sunday, whereas they can all come today (Monday). It was the safest thing.

"It was an inconvenience to us all. We were together as a group. We went home and had to start all over again today.

"It ruins the whole Bank Holiday weekend for us but there were no issues with players needing to get off work. That is the benefit of having a young team."

Irish Independent

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