Ulster ladies championship descends into chaos after late 3G change 1 month ago

Ulster ladies championship descends into chaos after late 3G change

The Ulster intermediate ladies club football championship descended into something of a farce on what could only be described as a manic Wednesday night.

Steelstown Brian Ógs of Derry still don't know how this one is going to end.

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They lost the 2021 final at this grade so, from the very beginning of the year, this competition was at the top of their agenda but in the last fortnight, it's fair to say that the dream has become more of a nightmare.

It all started last Sunday week.

That was when they travelled to Ballyshannon, south Donegal for their quarter final only to be told, when they got there, that the game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Players and supporters made the 100km trip home.

That game was re-fixed for the following Sunday, four days ago, and Steelstown defeated Aodh Ruadh of Donegal by 5-8 to 0-8.

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The Derry club were disappointed, in the aftermath, to discover that they would have to play their semi-final just 72 hours later but none-the-less, despite the quick turn-around, and despite the fact that they were facing a five hour round trip of a wintry Wednesday night to play it, they sucked it up and got on with it.

But there's only so much messing around one club can take.

Steelstown Brian Ógs were on the road down to Mullagh in Cavan on Wednesday when the Ulster LGFA communicated to them via email, not by phone-call, that the game was switched to Breffni Park's astroturf.

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Seeing as they were preparing for a slog on a wet pitch, it's hardly any surprise that the Steelstown players had steel studs in their gear-bags rather than mouldies but as we all know, steel studs on an astroturf pitch is not only a recipe for disaster, it is also not permitted on most grounds.

That was exactly what the Steelstown chairman Paul O'Hea told the Ulster council rep, who let on to him that it would be allowed. He then contacted the match referee who told him it wouldn't.

So, as O'Hea tweeted soon after, Steelstown let the Ulster council know that they were turning their bus around.

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"No point driving in to Cavan," he tweeted, "for the referee to tell majority of the players they cannot play with metal studs. The players would not put themselves at risk like that anyway."

As O'Hea said in an interview with the Derry Journal, Steelstown will appeal the forfeit and are still hoping a solution can be found. Seeing as the Ulster champions aren't in All-Ireland club action until November 19, two and a half weeks away, there's no reason why it couldn't be.

"The authorities have the ability to do something about this and schedule the games properly.

"It's crazy. You could tell on Monday that there was a weather warning for Wednesday.

"There was a high chance there would be some sort of problems with the pitch," he continued. They had the opportunity to change it to Sunday. It's fair for everybody and best for the welfare of the players but I can't understand why they didn't."

"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.

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"I think if the Ulster Council take stock of the way they've handled things so far, I'm hoping they will realise they have an opportunity to do this properly and make the right decision and re-fix the match for Sunday."