'We all want to see the game finished in a normal way' - Limerick boss on free drama
Colin Ryan created a little piece of history in the Gaelic Grounds last night when he hit the winning 'free' in a shoot-out to decide the second Allianz hurling League quarter-final.
After 58 scores, over 100 minutes of action and then 14 frees, all covering almost three hours, Ryan stepped up to convert Limerick's seventh free of the first free-taking competition to decide a league match. His sudden-death score came after Clare's Niall Deasy had missed his second shot, having converted in the regulation five shots earlier.
"It's drama but not the drama that you want. I prefer the game, we all do. We all want to see the game finished in a normal way but there was no separating them today. It was a crazy event and it'll take us a few hours to absorb it now and take it all on board," said Limerick manager John Kiely.
Limerick hit 20 wides but two goals from Aaron Gillane and one from substitute Pat Ryan forced extra-time after the sides were level at 3-16 to 0-25.
A second period of extra-time was required to divide them after Diarmuid Byrnes goaled from a free to level it again but still couldn't, prompting the free competition.
The concept was brought in to determine certain games - pre-season competitions, league quarter-finals and semi-finals and qualifiers - finish 'on the day' to avoid replays and create room for club fixtures. Ironically the game could have been replayed next weekend as two other quarter-finals - Wexford v Galway and Tipperary v Dublin - did not go ahead yesterday after being postponed from Sunday because of snow.
Just after midnight on Sunday, the Gaelic Players Association issued a statement which appeared to indicate that a number of players had committed to not playing on a Bank Holiday Monday at such short notice.
"Notwithstanding the recent inclement weather conditions creating considerable challenges for the CCCC with regard to rescheduling of games, the GPA consider it wholly unacceptable that no consultation was made with players beforehand," the statement read.
The statement continued: "It would appear that little or no consideration was given to players who have contractual obligations to their employers to fulfil. Furthermore, many of our players have personal or family arrangements which must now be changed at short notice.
"In 2017, over 70pc of inter-county football squads voted against the revised fixture schedule which was subsequently passed at GAA Congress.
"This condensed calendar season has little or no contingency for adverse weather conditions or suitable periods for rest and recovery of our amateur players.
"In the interests of welfare of our members, the GPA feels this is something the GAA needs to review."
The hurling league final can't now go ahead until the weekend of April 7-8 at the earliest. The GAA’s Central Competitions Controls Committee will decide today on a revised schedule.
The Division 1 and 3 football finals are on course to finish on schedule, March 31-April 1, but the Division 2 and 4 deciders are almost certain to be put back until April 7-8.
Limerick will play the winners of Tipperary and Dublin in one hurling league semi-final while Kilkenny, will meet Wexford or Galway on March 31 or April 1.