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Herbert fumes at being held 'hostage' by club calendar after washout

Oulart-The Ballagh manager Pat Herbert hit out at the club hurling calendar after the late postponement of yesterday's Leinster semi-final against Ballyhale Shamrocks.

Referee Barry Kelly had little option but to rule Wexford Park unplayable just 30 minutes before throw-in with torrential rain leaving pools of standing water on the pitch. The game will now be played next Sunday at the same venue (pitch permitting), with the winners then facing Offaly champions Kilcormac-Killoughey on December 9.

A sizeable crowd had already paid in by the time of the announcement and Herbert admitted that his personal preference would have been to play. He suggested: "The last match we played in Parnell Park, the conditions were much worse I felt than today.

"We wanted to go ahead because when you have players fired up and ready to go, the last thing they want is the disappointment of a game being called off. Our focus and preparation was towards today and now you have to refocus.

"The best teams in the country, playing in the best competition in the country and playing in the worst conditions of the year – November, December. We are hostages to the weather.


"They are trying to fit so many competitions into a short window and it's not going to work. Hurling certainly shouldn't be played in December and January. Five or six years ago, they made the decision to stop playing National League games at this time of year, so why now play the club games in this quagmire?"

Herbert had no criticism of Westmeath referee Kelly who admitted that the pitch was "barely playable" when he arrived with his officials about an hour and a half before the 2.0 throw-in.

"We got word last (Saturday) night that it was in doubt," revealed Kelly. "But there was a pitch inspection by local officials at 11.15 and it was deemed playable. But they said they'd wait until we arrived. We arrived about 12.30 and it was barely playable then, but we said we'd hold off based on the weather that was forecast.

"But it deteriorated considerably from say 12.30 to about 1.20, so health and safety came into it. It's not an issue. There's water lying on the pitch, the ball's not going to run, it's not going to bounce, the match would become farcical."

Ballyhale manager Tommy Shefflin described the decision as "probably the right call".

"At one end of the field, there was water all over the place so if the ball hit the ground it was going to be a slogging match and someone could get badly injured. So you have to think of the players," said Shefflin.

Irish Independent