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'The GAA isn’t immune to climate change' - How Storm Dennis showed the vulnerability of a packed GAA schedule

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A general view prior to the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 3 match between Carlow and Dublin at Netwatch Cullen Park. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

A general view prior to the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 3 match between Carlow and Dublin at Netwatch Cullen Park. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

A general view prior to the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 3 match between Carlow and Dublin at Netwatch Cullen Park. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Uncertainty over the rescheduling of Allianz League fixtures following cancellations caused by successive weekends of stormy weather has shown how the GAA are "very hamstrung" with their schedule, says Frank Roche. 

Roche pointed to the inclusion of a last-eight round in the League as one area that needs to be revised, saying that "I don't personally see the need for quarter-finals, its an extra weekend that I don't think necessarily needs to be there" on Independent.ie's Throw-In podcast with Will Slattery, Michael Verney and John Mullane.

"Reward the top two and put them into semi finals, or even reward the top of each group and put them into a final. And a lot of it comes back to pre-season competitions as well - the League didn't start until the 25th of January - so I think the pre-season competitions are nonsense at this stage.

"If you get rid of them you can start the League a week earlier, give yourself a bit more wiggle room with break weeks - have 2 break weeks in the hurling let's say - and if something happens then you can go forward and take one of the break weeks and play that week. Where they are going to fit in the hurling matches now I'm not really sure."

The arrival of Storm Dennis and the subsequent Status Orange wind warnings in western counties seen the cancellations of Limerick's match with Waterford in the LIT Gaelic Grounds and Galway's clash with All-Ireland champions Tipperary. This came just a week after conditions caused by Storm Ciara led to 3 football games being cancelled and the relocation of Tyrone v Kerry from Omagh. Roche says it is now time for the GAA to realise that such weather events have to be legislated for when drawing up the League schedule.

"You can't ignore the fact that the GAA isn't immune to climate change, no more than anyone else. This is three years in a row where there has been major disruption caused, and we all know that February is probably the worst month of the year in terms of erratic weather in Ireland. At this stage, it is a bit of nonsense.

"Having quarter-finals, especially the way the hurling is structured (is nonsense) because everything is going to have to be set back a week. And there is a feeling that 'we have to have it done', and I totally understand the logic of trying to have a club-only month, but then they try to squeeze everything into an impossibly tight schedule"

One game that did go ahead was Dublin's 0-20 to 0-9 win away to Carlow, a game where the elements had a surprising effect on the visiting side.

"It was kind of a weird match. Dublin struggled with the elements. They had the wind in the first half but they only scored six points, they were 0-6 to 0-4 up. And if it wasn't Dublin v Carlow you'd be thinking that the game was set for the home team," said Roche, who was at the game in Netwatch Cullen Park.

"But the game was totally transformed in the second half, the rain relented and Dublin, probably because of the conditions, started running the ball a lot more. In the first 15 minutes after half-time, the gulf in terms of their physicality, power and pace blew Carlow away."

The Throw-In is produced in association with Allianz

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