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Offaly Supporters And Management Left Fuming By 'Scandalous' Late Call

Offaly Supporters And Management Left Fuming By 'Scandalous' Late Call

Four games were called off in the National Football League over the weekend, including the division three clash between Derry and Offaly at Celtic Park.

It was around 12:30 yesterday afternoon when it was announced that the game had been postponed due to an unplayable pitch. The match was scheduled for a 2pm throw-in.

Speaking to Will O'Callaghan on Midlands 103, former inter-county hurling referee Brian Gavin - who had been on the road to Derry when the announcement was made - criticised the lateness of the decision.

Derry had passed the pitch, 9:30 inspection, but surely at 11 or 11:30, they should have made a decision on this. It's sort of farcical in a way.

At half 12 to call a match off is nothing short of scandalous. It'd be different if Derry were playing Fermanagh or a team nearby where they can leave it as long as they can to see what happens. For supporters travelling three hours 20 minutes, it was farcical to say the least.

It looks like nobody took responsibility. The referee was coming from Sligo. He probably had two or two-and-a-half hours journey as well. He probably arrived at 12:15. It's easy for Derry to make the call then and put the pressure on the referee to call it. This game should have been called from early morning.

Gavin also highlighted the dangers of supporters travelling in such conditions.

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"I saw a car - we were between Strabane and Omagh - and here he was, upside down in a hedge. The roads were treacherous this morning. People's safety was at risk."

Offaly manager Stephen Wallace, speaking to Radio One's Sunday Sport, was also annoyed by the lateness of the call.

"Bit of a disaster for the lads, we were geared up to play. Looked doubtful from early this morning. To come all the way to the ground and be told to turn around and go home is a bit disappointing. It could have been called a little earlier but it is what it is.

"The pitch is white. You couldn’t possibly play football on that. You feel for lads, they organise work and get off work.

"Supporters coming up the road from Offaly for the game and they have to turn around and go home again in dangerous driving conditions. I think possibly we need to look at this and call these things a lot earlier.

"That is fit for nothing only making snowmen, and there is more snow coming. We will be back up to lovely Derry next Sunday and hopefully it goes ahead next Sunday.

“Lots of games were called earlier. Games were coming through on social media all morning as cancelled. We’re here in Celtic Park ready to go and find out the game isn’t going ahead."

Picture credit: Paddy Hunter

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PJ Browne
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