Brian Ógs ladies facing forfeit fears following Ulster LGFA's 'shambolic' scheduling

Brian Ógs ladies facing forfeit fears following Ulster LGFA's 'shambolic' scheduling Brian Ógs ladies facing forfeit fears following Ulster LGFA's 'shambolic' scheduling
Neasa Kennedy

Derry's Brian Ógs ladies are now facing forfeit fears as they did not play in last nights semi-final against Castlerahn/Denn.

The Steelstown club had won their Ulster Quarter Final on Sunday and were due to play their semi-final three days later on Wednesday, with a potential Ulster final on Sunday. Three big, important games squashed in to one week.

Many raised concerns regarding this incredibly small window for recovery, citing player welfare concerns and breach of the LGFA 'Code of Ethics' which states 'the welfare of the player comes first and competitive standards come second'.

Despite this controversy, Ulster LGFA did not change the fixtures and the clubs were set to play Wednesday, November 2nd in their semi final, just 72hours after their quarter final win.

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The Brian Óg team had begun their long journey to Cavan when four hours before their 7.30pm throw-in they were emailed that their match was being switched from the original grass fixture in Mullagh, to Breffini Park's 3G surface.

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Most of the players did not have the appropriate footwear to play on an artificial surface, and when they informed the Ulster Council of this, they were told if they did not fulfil the fixture the match would be forfeited.

Steelstown chairman, Paul O'Hea has criticised the LGFA and their handling of the fixture with O'Hea describing the situation as 'shambolic' stating how it was moronic for the team to continue their travel when the referee would not allow most of the players to play with metal studs.

He also commented that Ulster LGFA secretary had said that players would be ok to play with studs, when it is known that there is a much higher risk of injury.

Speaking to the Derry Journal, O'Hea explained the concern over playing on artificial surface with metal stud boots.

"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!

"Our secretary saw it 10 minutes later and sent word. They were away with the wrong footwear. We told them we can't play on a 3G without 'mouldies'. Pitches up and down the country have signs to say you can't wear blades or studs because it's not safe. I'm sure that's for legal reasons and insurance reasons and all the rest. There's a massive high risk of injury.

"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!"

The Ulster council had agreed to push the match out a half hour in order for girls to get the appropriate boots, but this was not a feasible remedy.

"It's absolutely crazy that they wanted it to go ahead. They actually told us that if they put the match back until 8pm. we could have time to gather up the right boots. There was girls left from Belfast, girls came from the airport and girls left from Derry, did they expect us to run around and gather up 'mouldies' so we could play the match? Get real!" said O'Hea.

He also spoke of how unfair this was on the players and on their preparation for such an important game.

"Not one bit of this has been our girls' fault and this is how they've been treated. It's not our doing and it's out of our control so if they make us forfeit the game it's an absolute joke.

"The girls got time off work, arranged everything to drive down to Cavan and halfway down the road they have to turn around and come home. It's devastating and so frustrating. Considering they've been playing so well too.

"The girls are devastated and angry at the way they've been treated. They've tried their best to train and prepare to get there. It must be so distracting when you're preparing for a semi-final and it's devastating for them."

O'Hea is hopeful that the match will be rescheduled and the ladies will not have to forefit their semi-final.

"I really hope they do the right thing and fix this match again for Sunday. We'll see. The final could be put back a week and played with the senior final a week later."
"I really hope they do but we'll see if they do that or not."

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