‘I regret that we didn’t walk off’: Rabbitt hits out at LGFA over semi-final fiasco

Galway manager says team given just seven minutes to warm up after late venue change

Galway’s Sinéad Burke and Mairead Seoighe dejected at the end of the game. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Galway’s Sinéad Burke and Mairead Seoighe dejected at the end of the game. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

“We were treated like something you’d find on the bottom of a shoe,” said Galway manager Tim Rabbitt of his county’s experience ahead of their All-Ireland football semi-final against Cork on Sunday, his players given just seven minutes to warm up ahead of the game after it had been switched to Croke Park at late notice due to a frozen pitch at Parnell Park.

It completed a frustrating build-up to the semi-final which had initially been scheduled to be played at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds. That venue, though, became unavailable when it was required by the Limerick hurlers once they reached the All-Ireland final.

“When we were told about it and that we’d be going to Dublin instead, I genuinely thought it was a joke,” said Rabbitt. “I emailed the LGFA [Ladies Gaelic Football Association] straight away and told them that it was absolutely ridiculous, that surely Thurles or Ennis or anywhere down the country would have been better. But we were told a whole load of different reasons why it couldn’t happen. We didn’t go public with our complaints because we didn’t want to be seen to be kicking off about it, but it’s just not good enough in 2020.

“No more than the referee – we’re playing Cork, and there’s a Kerry referee. There’s 30 other counties in the country where you can get a referee from, but they choose one from a neighbouring county. Just not good enough.”

Rabbitt’s chief regret about Sunday’s events is that he didn’t refuse to play the game. “I regret on behalf of the girls that we didn’t walk off the pitch. We should have refused to play. We were willing to be accommodating, we knew the pitch was frozen, we wanted the game to go ahead, we know the circumstances are difficult, with Covid and the time of year, but we were assured that we’d get sufficient time to do our warm-up – and we didn’t get that.

“The referee was constantly shouting and roaring at us that we had to go. No respect was given to us, by him or any of the LGFA officials. Straight away he said, ‘I’m starting in six minutes’. I had to go over to him and try to reason with him, I asked for a couple more minutes, we were given seven and at that stage we should have left.

“I’m taking nothing away from Cork, they deserved it, they were the better team, and I really want to stress that, but the whole experience was a joke.

“These are things that just wouldn’t happen in the men’s game. If we’re going to talk about equality, there has to be some substance to it, not just pushing things under the carpet like they’re not happening. They are happening - every year. The ladies game is probably one of the fastest growing sports in the country, but we don’t seem to have the officialdom in the association that can keep pace with it and to bring the professionalism that is required.”

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