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'We should have refused to play' – Galway boss Tim Rabbitt slams LGFA over semi-final chaos

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Galway manager Tim Rabbitte during the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Semi-Final match against Cork at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Galway manager Tim Rabbitte during the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Semi-Final match against Cork at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Galway manager Tim Rabbitte during the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Semi-Final match against Cork at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

A BAD week for women’s sport took a further nosedive in Croke Park yesterday with Galway ladies football boss Tim Rabbitt describing the situation as a “mess” after his side had just seven minutes to warm-up following the late venue/time change of their All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Cork.

Rabbitt described the decision to move the tie to Dublin as “absolutely crazy” in the immediate aftermath before expanding on his comments last night and revealing “regret that we didn’t walk off” before throw-in.

“We were treated like something you’d find on the bottom of a shoe,” he said.

“I regret on behalf of the girls that we didn’t walk off the pitch. We should have refused to play. We were assured that we’d get sufficient time to do our warm-up and we didn’t get that.

“The whole experience was a joke. These are things that just wouldn’t happen in the men’s game. If we’re going to talk about equality, there has to be some substance to it, not just pushing things under the carpet like they’re not happening.

“They are happening, every year. The ladies’ game is probably one of the fastest growing sports in the country, but we don’t seem to have the officialdom in the Association that can keep pace with it and to bring the professionalism that is required.”

Cork boss Ephie Fitzgerald was “disgusted” when informed by the LGFA at 11.30 yesterday morning that Parnell Park’s pitch was frozen and he questioned the direction which women’s sport is going in after the game was switched to Croke Park and brought forward by half an hour to 1.0.

There was a furore earlier this week when Cork and Galway were forced to travel huge distances – with Cork incurring massive costs after booking 50 rooms in a Dublin hotel to stay over on Saturday night – after their last-four clash was switched from the LIT Gaelic Grounds to the capital.

Rabbitt’s Galway squad were still en route in their cars on the M6 in Kinnegad when the game was changed and Fitzgerald fired a broadside at the LGFA for allowing the farcical episode to occur after his side prevailed, 2-17 to 0-13.

It was communicated to reporters that no post-match briefings would be allowed, but both managers kindly obliged and Fitzgerald had plenty to get off his chest after a disastrous week for the LGFA, which was compounded by TG4, the competition’s sponsors, being unable to air the game live due to the late venue change.

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Fitzgerald lamented the monstrous journey back to Cork which many of his squad faced and reckoned that they are not getting “the same treatment as the guys get”.

“You’d have to say it is a bad week for ladies sport, wouldn’t you really? My wife just rang me there and said ‘Twitter is lighting up with What’s going on here? Why is this happening?’ It is a bit of a kick in the teeth,” Fitzgerald said.

“You’d have to say this has been a negative step for ladies’ football, for women’s sport in general. I find it hard to get into my head what happened, we were so rushed. It is unacceptable.

“I actually feel more disappointed for the families and supporters of Cork ladies’ footballers that it wasn’t on television. My father is in hospital and he had arranged to get a television into the room to watch the game, they are the people I really feel sorry for.

“We were here, we could see the game, but where are we going with ladies sport if this is going to happen, where are we going in an All-Ireland semi-final. This is a logistical issue, but I think it’s a women’s issue as well.

“Maybe I’m in a stronger position to talk about it because we were victorious, but I was disgusted and I felt very sorry for Galway, they were rushing onto the pitch after us. There are no words really, what can I say?”

An LGFA statement acknowledged that “a change of venue and time was not ideal” with a postponement the alternative while they insisted that “the health and safety of our players was to the forefront” in their decision to proceed at GAA headquarters.


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