Finn Harps say no to Friday fixture


Finn Harps manager Charlie McGeever said last night that his side will not travel to Inchicore for this weekend's game against St Patrick's Athletic unless the game was switched back from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.

Further uncertainty was cast on an already confused situation when McGeever said that as far as he and his club were concerned, a fax sent out by the National League on Saturday stating that the game would be played at 3.15 on Sunday constituted official notice of the fixture.

That, he added, is when the Donegal club will be prepared to travel.

"This game has been changed back and forth between Friday and Sunday four times over the last eight days," said McGeever, "but when the fax arrived on Saturday we presumed that that was the issue resolved.

"Now we have made arrangements based on a Sunday game and we effectively get 36 hours notice that we have to change everything around again. Well that's not acceptable. I wouldn't treat another teacher like that over a schoolboy game and we can't be expected to play the league leaders with a weakened team because players aren't available due to something that has had nothing whatsoever to do with us."

McGeever says that three of his players need to give a week's notice to their employers in order to be available for away games on Friday evenings, while a fourth has already booked a flight from Scotland with a Sunday game in mind. "We had also arranged training so as to build up to a Sunday game, while the arrangements of fans who had been intending to travel have also been hit."

The Donegal club contacted Merrion Square yesterday seeking an explanation for the latest change and feeling that they did not receive a satisfactory reason, they decided at a board meeting last night to inform the league that they will not travel for the game on Friday.

"We had no problem last week," says McGeever, "we were prepared to play at any time because, well, it's up to the home club when they want to play their matches. But as far as I can make out now the League told St Patrick's to play the game on Sunday and they have said that they won't. We will not be made to suffer for that."

This latest dispute arose after Shamrock Rovers had, earlier in the day, conceded that the game would be played at the same time as their clash with Bohemians at Tolka Park - in spite of their objections. Rovers and St Patrick's disagreed over whether this would contravene an agreement made during the summer involving the two of them, as well as Bohemians and Shelbourne, which was aimed at avoiding clashes of big games in Dublin.

St Patrick's Athletic PRO, Gary Brannigan insisted that the agreement had been worked out on a game-by-game basis and that no arrangement was made in regard to the forthcoming series of matches.

"We have done nothing wrong because this game was never included in the deal and we have simply applied to have the game brought forward in the normal way and received approval for that from the League," he said.

But Pat Byrne, secretary of Rovers, insisted that the agreement was specifically aimed at derby matches between the four clubs and maintained that this Friday's match between Rovers and Bohemians is one of the games involved.

At Tolka Park, meanwhile, a board meeting called to consider remarks made by manager Damien Richardson in support of the proposed move by Wimbledon to Dublin ended without any statement from the club.