There is controversy brewing up in Ulster after the cancellation of the Ladies Intermediate Football semi-final between Derry champions Steelstown Brian Ógs and Cavan's Castlerahan/Denn last night.
Steelstown were unable to fulfil the fixture after the venue was changed from a grass pitch in Mullagh to Breffni Park's 3G pitch, due to poor weather conditions.
The Derry side were unprepared for the 3G pitch, and had packed steel studs rather than mouldies, and thus informed organisers that they would not be able to field a team.
The Ulster LFGA, however, had informed the side that should they cancel, they would have to forfeit the game.
Ulster LFGA informed the Derry club, over a Zoom meeting on Tuesday night, that Breffni Park would be in place as a back-up, but not enough information was given according to Steelstown chairman, Paul O'Hea.
O'Hea acknowledges that the club knew that Breffni Park was a back-up, but it is his view that the issue is the fault of Ulster LFGA:
"As far as we were concerned Breffni Park was a back-up but there was never any email to tell us the back-up procedures or tell us the time the pitch inspections would take place, nothing in writing."
Derry Champions vs Ulster Council
**UPDATE ON LADIES SEMI-FINAL MATCH**
Unfortunately tonight’s semi final is not going ahead. We would like to thank everyone for their support over the last year . A disappointing evening for all 💙💛 Utó pic.twitter.com/HaToylZW0U
— Steelstown Brian Ógs (@BrianOgs) November 2, 2022
Steelstown played their Ulster quarter-final against Ballyshannon on Sunday, although the Ulster LFGA recommend a five-day turn around between matches for player safety.
However, the original date for the quarter-final was Sunday October 23, but due to an unplayable pitch the game was postponed.
Ulster LFGA had asked the sides to play mid-week, but, according to sources, Steelstown chose to play it on Sunday October 30 instead.
Yesterday's semi-final date had been agreed upon because the final is scheduled for Sunday November 6, which is in place to give the winners time to organise their trip to the UK to face the British champions on November 19th/20th.
You can read O'Hea's full defence of his club below.
"It's an absolute shambles. Our players begged and got time off work, got babysitters arranged, people flew back from England and yet they're on the way up the road when we receive an email to say the match has been switched to a 3G pitch at Breffni Park.
"As far as we were concerned Breffni Park was a back-up but there was never any email to tell us the back-up procedures or tell us the time the pitch inspections would take place, nothing in writing.
"So it changed to a 3G pitch and all the girls have metal stud boots for grass pitches. You can't play with those on a 3G pitch! We received an email, not even a phone call, but an email at 3.30 pm!
"Nothing was emailed to say Breffni Park was the back up pitch and our girls were already away. A few of them wouldn't have been too keen to play on a 3G pitch anyway because some of them did their ACL last year. The rest of them, you simply can't play on it if you don't have the right footwear. The risk of wrecking your knee or ankle is far higher. You can't do it!"