Na Fianna blast ‘totally unacceptable’ fixture schedule with 12 players playing back-to-back semi-finals

Na Fianna approached the LGFA and Camogie Association to find a way out of the fixture jam, but a satisfactory resolution did not materialise

A dozen Na Fianna dual players must play two All-Ireland semi-finals in less than 24 hours at venues over 300 kilometres apart this weekend, a scenario described by the club as “totally unsatisfactory and unacceptable”.

The Meath outfit face Eglish in an All-Ireland intermediate club camogie semi-final in Darver, Louth on Saturday at 3pm and must then immediately reset for an All-Ireland intermediate football semi-final against Glanmire in Mallow on Sunday at 2pm.

Of their 12 dual players, nine are expected to start both games. Na Fianna approached the LGFA and Camogie Association to find a way out of the fixture jam, but a satisfactory resolution did not materialise.

The All-Ireland club senior and intermediate football finals are scheduled for Croke Park on Saturday, December 16th while the All-Ireland senior and intermediate camogie deciders are down for decision at the same venue on Sunday, December 17th.


Na Fianna sought for one of their games to be moved to the weekend of December 9th-10th but were told by the LGFA that two weeks’ preparation was required for All-Ireland finals.

“Their fixtures should not be sacrosanct, what should be sacrosanct is the welfare of players,” says Na Fianna chairman Tom Curran. “This is not just about our club, I see this as being a much bigger issue. This is a travesty being visited on these young women by the organisations they play for.

“We have a one-club policy within Na Fianna where all codes are equal, that is why I as chairman of the overall club am really incensed by the lack of concern from the two national organisations towards the welfare of the women who play the games.

“There was a simple solution to this, the simple solution was to put back one of the games until next weekend, which was a free weekend. They said they needed up to 10 days to prepare for the All-Ireland final.

“What would reasonable people do? They would have come to an accommodation.

“But they failed here and failed miserably. It is totally unsatisfactory and unacceptable that they are forcing this group of young women to play two games in effectively 24 hours at different ends of the country.”

Shauna Ennis, who captained the Meath women’s footballers to All-Ireland senior titles in 2021 and 2022, is among the Na Fianna players caught up in this dual dilemma.

And Na Fianna are not the only club to have encountered such hurdles this season. Glanmire beat Tir Chonaill Gaels in an All-Ireland women’s football intermediate quarter-final in London last Saturday and flew home that same night.

On Sunday, three of those Glanmire players featured for Sarsfields in a Munster club senior camogie final victory over Drom & Inch in Tipperary. Glanmire and Sarsfields are in action on consecutive days again this weekend, though if nothing else at least the games are both in Cork.

However, with Croke Park booked for the respective All-Ireland finals on the weekend of December 16th-17th, rescheduling options were limited for fixture makers.

“Na Fianna have been facilitated with their choice of day next weekend – we asked them what they would prefer and they picked the Sunday,” said a spokesperson for the LGFA.

“We also have another team involved so it is not just Na Fianna who are impacted here if the fixture was to be moved out.

“It’s simply not feasible to prepare for an All-Ireland final in a week, with various factors coming into play – match programmes, officials, printing jerseys specific to the All-Ireland Finals, to name but a few.

“As is the case during the summer months with intercounty fixtures, the split season plays a part due to the condensed windows to play games and our 2023 Master Fixtures plan was finalised and agreed a year ago.”

On the issue of being offered the choice of moving the fixture from Saturday to Sunday, Curran argues that it wasn’t exactly the most appealing of choices.

“It’s a bit like going to be hung and being asked would you prefer to be hung on a Saturday or a Sunday?” he suggests.

The Camogie Association says efforts were made to accommodate Na Fianna’s dual commitments.

“We made an attempt to reschedule the fixture a week earlier, but Eglish were unable to accommodate the change due to work commitments and travel plans of several players,” stated the Camogie Association.

“We engaged with the LGFA to ensure there was no direct clash on the same day. The split season also has an impact on the fixtures schedule.

“The weekend of December 9th and 10th is necessary for rescheduled matches in case of adverse weather during the weekend of December 2nd and 3rd, with our finals scheduled to take place in Croke Park on December 17th.”

Na Fianna have decided to travel to Cork after their camogie match and stay overnight on Leeside ahead of the football semi-final the following afternoon.

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times