Amid a Congress which placed the issue of a prospective, regimented fixture list high on the agenda, the GAA has witnessed a flagrant disregard for existing fixtures on successive weekends. Last weekend, the clash between Tyrone and Cavan, fixed for a half-flooded Healy Park was called off just an hour before throw-in.
This weekend, we saw another postponement in the Allianz Football League, although in contrast, this decision was notable for early it was made. Longford were due to face Tipperary as part of a double-header in Semple Stadium this afternoon, a 1pm throw-in preceding the hurling game between Tipperary and Clare, fixed for 3pm. The football game, however, was postponed at 12.30pm on Saturday afternoon, while the hurling went ahead as planned. The Longford game has yet to be refixed, but is expected to be played next weekend.
Longford manager Denis Connerton spoke exclusively to Balls.ie to articulate his frustration with the entire situation, saying that he and his panel are "fuming" with the fact that the game could not be played this weekend.
We heard yesterday afternoon that the match was cancelled because the pitch would not be able to take two matches. Of course, the football had to go and not the hurling, which is very annoying from our point of view, because we had all of our preparation done for the match, we had our travel arrangements made, our catering, and what have you.
It's the only match off in the four divisions in the National Football League, so you would have to wonder about other venues in Tipperary, and why there wasn't another pitch available.
I was given a reason that the pitch was not able to play two matches.
We were informed very early. At around 12.30pm yesterday, we were notified that the game was off. That was very early to call the game off.
Semple looks in fine nick ahead of Tipp-Clare. Hard to understand why Tipp-Longford football curtain-raiser was postponed. pic.twitter.com/69sEIhxV4l
— Mark Gallagher (@bailemg) March 5, 2017
The canceling of the game hits Longford hard. Following an opening day victory over Offaly, Longford lost narrowly to Louth and Armagh in rounds two and three, so even the consolidation of Division Three status will be hurt by fixture congestion and the lack of availability of their full squad, issues exacerbated by the postponing of this afternoon's game.
That affects us greatly. We will be without our under-21s next weekend. We would have had them this weekend, after their exploits against Kildare [in the Leinster U-21 championship earlier this week]. Now we will not have them in our squad next weekend, that's four players out of our squad. Also, we now have to play four matches in three weeks, which, for a small county, with limited resources, is going to be very, very difficult.
We're fuming that the match has been called off today. There's a reason for the weeks' break in the National League: it's an opportunity for teams to refresh themselves. That opportunity has been denied to us now. We will have to play four matches in three weeks, and we will have to travel to three of those matches.
We have to do all that [planning] all over again. At this stage, we don't know whether the match is on a Saturday, or whether the match is on a Sunday. And we don't even know the time, we don't even know the date, and we don't even know the venue of the match.
Connerton reiterates his belief that the game should not have been postponed, and that Longford should have been given the opportunity to find an alternative venue. Having been denied that opportunity, Connerton says that home advantage should be awarded to Longford in the refixed game.
We're very annoyed over it. When there wasn't a venue in Tipperary to host that match, at that early stage we'd have found a venue to host it: either in Longford, or, if needs be, it should have been moved to an Offaly venue, or a Laois venue, or another neutral venue that could have staged the game. I don't believe that the match should have fallen this weekend.
We feel that we should get a home venue in this game. We were ready to travel, it is not our fault that the match was called off, and we are now faced with playing three matches away from home in three weeks, and one single match at home, and it is not our fault that match fell.
This issue is sure to further sour relations between the respective counties. Last May, Tipperary agreed to fulfill a challenge match against Longford to mark the opening of the new pitch at the Carrickedmond club, but reneged on the agreement the day prior to the match. Longford were ultimately forced to play an As vs Bs challenge match instead, having been unable to secure an alternative opponent.
The Tipperary county board did not respond to our calls for comment at the time of publication.
See Also: The Depressed Cork GAA Reaction To Yet Another Appalling Day
See Also: Jim Gavin Is Not Happy With The Treatment Of Jack McCaffrey