BOTH Ballincollig and Éire Óg were left frustrated by the non-appearance of the referee for their county U21 A football semi-final at Ballymaw on Sunday afternoon.
The game didn't go ahead and the rivals were angry at the county board's insistence in the game going ahead in the middle of the student holiday season.
David Bourke, the Ballincollig manager, outlined the background. “The referee was contacted and we believe he was about to referee another game. He wasn't notified of the fixture, according to the referee himself.
“For a game of this importance between neighbouring clubs you'd want to have one of the top referees in Cork,” he said.
The highly respected Brian Coniry (Crosshaven) was listed as the man in charge.
“Brian is a top referee and we were looking forward to him refereeing the game. You couldn't have a local referee because the game is too important. It's too big a game.”
The clubs are out of pocket and players on both sides had their holidays disrupted.
“We brought two players back for the quarter-final against Carrigaline last Tuesday and another back for this game. The club is paying half of their airfares. It's their last year at U21 and we want to give them every chance of playing in the competition.
“The county board is rushing this competition through even though it's in the middle of the summer when students take their holidays and go away.
“We did our first training session over Christmas and our first game was in the middle of February. Here we are in July still playing in the competition.
“There is a quarter-final still to be played on the other side of the draw and we will be into October when this game is played.
“That's unfair on the young fellows. We were told this competition would be over by the end of May.
“You're disrupting kids who don't have full-time jobs. They're paying money to go on holidays and are being brought back. It's wrong,” Bourke added.
His Éire Óg counterpart, Damien Lordan, was even more exasperated.
“We were in correspondence with the county board all week about this fixture.
“We had nine players away. We sent the board pictures of their flight tickets and everything related, but the board insisted the game had to be played.
“We, as a club, spent €1,800 on flying lads home in the three days running up to the game.
“That's monumental for a club like ours and we will have to fund-raise as a result.
“Some lads had 19-20 hour flights to get back and we're very despondent as a club to have spent all that money.
“Four lads had to give up their holidays. Two were in Cyprus, another was in Stockholm and the other came from Portugal.
“For a U21 A county semi-final, it's totally unacceptable. The onus was on the county board to have a referee here.
“We have no qualms at all with Brian. We've had him many times and he is a fantastic referee.
“We were actually delighted he was refereeing it because Brian is a very fair ref.
“The county board have a lot to answer for here. There is still uncertainty because the lads don't know when they can book holidays again.
“Hopefully the board will tell us we can have four or five weeks so the lads can have their holidays,” Lordan said.
The championship continues this evening with the round 2 replay between St Finbarr's and O'Donovan Rossa in the Oliver Plunketts club with St Michael's awaiting the winners in the quarter-final.
The other last-eight tie is between Kilshannig and Douglas.