Making the call to cancel a match is rare in the GAA and never easy

Making the call to cancel a match is rare in the GAA and never easy
A view of the conditions at Mallow GAA ahead of the postponed Harty Cup final. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

AT LOCAL level, a lot of soccer games tend to go by the wayside in bad weather.

This is understandable to an extent, as club’s pitch may be scheduled to hold five or six games over a weekend, and so one game going ahead in poor conditions may result in negative knock-on effects.

However, the GAA tends to have a far lower attrition rate — the fact that the balls are in the air more than in soccer is probably a factor.

A travelling companion learned this to her detriment in 2009, on a trip to Clare to cover Valley Rovers in the Munster Club IFC against Cratloe.

This was after heavy flooding and the game was moved from Cratloe to neighbouring Clarecastle but she felt that there was no way the game could go ahead at all and reckoned that we’d be in for a day of being pampered at Dromoland Castle.

If this was a film, the narrator’s would chime in now to inform the audience that the game was not, in fact, postponed.

Saturday was different, though. Despite the heavy rain and wind, word came through early in the morning that the pitch at Mallow had passed an inspection and the Dr Harty Cup final between Cork’s Christian Brothers College and St Flannan’s College of Ennis would be going ahead.

By the time Carrigoon was reached, though, things had worsened considerably and the signs were that we were dealing with an 18- or 19 -point wind, at the very least.

A view of the conditions at Mallow GAA which resulted in the match being postponed. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
A view of the conditions at Mallow GAA which resulted in the match being postponed. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

To be fair to the Mallow club members, they were out in their oilskins, helping people to park up on the grass — we stayed by the kerb, just to minimise the possibility of skidding — and keeping things up to the usual level of organisation at the venue.

Mallow is one of the best for half-time tea and sandwiches, but we didn’t get to sample them on Saturday as, reaching the gate at 11.10am for the noon throw-in, we were told that the weather had won and the game had been called off.

It was the right decision as it would have been grossly unfair to ask young lads to play a final of such magnitude in conditions that were so bad.

St Flannan's player Stephen Casey looking at the pitch. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Flannan's player Stephen Casey looking at the pitch. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Similarly, the safety of spectators is a consideration but, from that point of view, the late decision has to be questioned.

Those supporting Christians were at less of a disadvantage but were still inconvenienced, while it was dreadfully unfair on the Flannan’s contingent to have to travel from Ennis only to find out when they got to Mallow that their efforts were in vain.

While the pitch may have been playable at 8.30am, that shouldn’t be the only factor taken into account and the adverse forecast had been known in advance.

From an administrative point of view, there was at least the consolation that Munster officials hadn’t taken any money at the game, saving the need for messy refunds, and ultimately we should be thankful that the match went ahead just because everybody was present and correct.

Due to other commitments, the game will now take place on Saturday week, February 29 — thank God they have the extra day for it this year, says you — and, as that was originally a date set aside for the All-Ireland series, the whole competition will be slightly delayed.

It’s probably not ideal from a Leaving Certificate point of view, but sometimes these things just can’t be avoided.

On Sunday, we made a longer journey, to TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar for the Westmeath-Cork Allianz HL Division 1 Group A clash.

Again, an early pitch inspection went well and we were fairly fearful when there was a heavy downpour at quarter past one — it got quite dark and there were no floodlights to put on — but thankfully that shower passed and the match went ahead.

It was a workmanlike win for a Cork side featuring some experimentation and now, having started with a loss to Waterford, they are in a good position, with two wins from three ahead of clashes with Limerick at home and Galway away.

Winning the league is obviously third in the list of three priorities for Cork, but it’s no harm to be showing a bit of good form in the spring.

And it’s important to note the Westmeath hospitality – prior to the game, we were asked whether we wanted tea or coffee at half-time.

Definitely a precedent we’d like to see followed.

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