A late change in venue saw Sunday’s All Ireland football semi-final tarnished with controversy, leaving Galway with just seven minutes to warm up for their match vs Cork.
Having already been relocated from the LIT Gaelic grounds in order to accommodate a training session for the Limerick hurlers who progressed to their respective final, the game was scheduled to take place in Parnell Park at 1:30 pm with coverage provided by TG4.
A pitch inspection was conducted on the morning of the match and a short statement was released by the LGFA that revealed the grounds were deemed unplayable due to “icy conditions”. The decision was then made to transfer the clash to Croke Park.
Both sides were informed and while the Cork team were already in Dublin having stayed In a hotel, Galway were still on route when the news was announced. They were assured they would be provided sufficient time to warm up and to allow for this the throw in time was pushed to 1:15.
As the fixture was required to have a result on the day, the allotted time had to take into account the possibility of extra time and 30m kicks and so there were concerns that this would interfere with the men’s Mayo Vs Tipperary semifinal which was set to take place at 3:30 pm.
Galway arrived on the field and were told that the game would be getting underway in a matter of minutes.
Today the Galway footballers, upon arriving at Croke Park, were told they had 8 minutes to warm up. For an All-Ireland semi final. They ended up with 7 minutes. They had barely reached their side of the pitch when they were told to send subs and backroom to the stand @offtheball
— MáireT (@MaireTNC) December 6, 2020
Speaking with Galway Bay FM, manager Tim Rabbit described the fluster as a “rush job” and was disconcerted with the treatment the teams received from LGFA officials and the referee.
“From an LGFA point of view, a Ladies Football point of view — it certainly wouldn’t happen in the men’s game. It was really disappointing from that side of things.”
“I did appeal to the LGFA but it just wasn’t good enough. If we could have walked off the pitch then, we probably would have” he said.
Labelling the incident as “disgraceful”, he also reflected about the lack of parity in the GAA as it would appear the ladies game stood second fiddle to the men’s match.
The change in venue also ruled out the ability for the game to be shown live despite RTE and Sky cameras being present, and so an older match was shown on Peil na mBan Beo in its place. The hard-work and sacrifice taken to reach an All-Ireland semi-final is indescribable. For these players not to have any family, friends and supporters to watch the game live and share the moment is heart-breaking.
In the main event itself Galway were heavily beaten by a dominant Cork side 2-17 to 0-13, and the rebels will now go on to play Dublin in the All-Ireland Final on the 20th of December.
While the answer as to who won the game is in no doubt, the public are left with more questions than solutions following this event.
After an embarrassing fiasco of changing venues twice, it would have to be posed so to why wasn't Croke Park the first option in the first place? Why couldn't the Mayo Vs Tipperary match have been delayed by just 15 minutes? Why did the pitch inspection not happen sooner?
Unfortunately, once again the LGFA have so much to answer. Whilst they have continuously talked a great game action speaks louder than words. It appears we are getting closer and closer to the inevitable fact that serious consideration needs to be had the amalgamation of the LGFA and the GAA.
Cora Staunton calling for "political leadership" on the RTÉ News at One. Added that it's not right to have three separate organisations (GAA, camogie, LGFA) and to "be treated like second class citizens is really not good enough in this day and age"
— Kathleen McNamee (@kathleen_mcn) December 7, 2020