‘Snow event’: No decision yet on GAA postponements

‘Contingency plan is in place for the weekend,’ says Association’s Feargal McGill

Kilkenny’s Billy Ryan and Seán O’Brien of Tipperary in action at Nowlan Park last weekend. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kilkenny’s Billy Ryan and Seán O’Brien of Tipperary in action at Nowlan Park last weekend. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

The GAA have put in place a contingency plan should some or all of this weekend’s Allianz League fixtures fall victim to the weather.

Given the heaviest predictions of snowfall are for late Thursday and into Friday, when Storm Emma is due to descend upon Ireland, a decision on any postponements is unlikely before then: however if a “status red” snow warning is issued by Met Éireann then that decision may be made sooner.

There are 33 intercounty games fixed for this weekend, starting with six Allianz Football League games on Saturday, including Dublin against Kerry at Croke Park (7.0); there are 10 more football games on the Sunday, plus 17 games in the Allianz Hurling League, including the final round of matches in Division 1A and Division 1B which will decide the quarter-final pairings.

Those hurling quarter-finals are then scheduled for Sunday week, March 11th, before the semi-finals on March 18th, and the final under floodlights on the evening of Saturday March 24th. With no further room for manoeuvre, should any postponements become necessary, those play-off stages would have to be put back at least a week.

“This situation is we do have a contingency plan in place for the weekend,” said Feargal McGill, GAA’s director of player, club and games administration.

“We will make a call on this weekend’s fixtures, probably waiting until Friday, to see exactly what happens. But in terms of the remainder of the league, that is factored into the contingency plan, in terms of when those outstanding games might be played.

“We’re not disclosing all the details, at this stage, but the important to say is that essentially it will have no impact on the April window month for club fixtures, as intended. So if the games don’t go ahead this weekend, there is a plan in place for how the remainder of the league would pan out, football and hurling. And if they do go ahead this weekend then great.”

 There is one more ‘free’ weekend in the Allianz Football League, on March 10th/11th, before a full schedule of games up to and including the league finals on the weekend of March 31st/April 1st – the rest of April then set aside “exclusively” for club activity under the GAAs new master fixtures plan.

Should some or all of this weekend’s hurling fixtures be postponed, that would mean playing the football and hurling finals on the same weekend; there was also the stipulation, announced as part of the GAA master fixture plan last October, that should Kilkenny and Tipperary make that hurling league final, it would be played on the Sunday in Nowlan Park (which doesn’t have floodlights), thus the same day as the football finals in Croke Park.

Travelling conditions

All hypothetical for now: however, McGill also indicated that it’s not just the condition of the playing pitches which will impact on the decision whether or not to postpone this weekend’s games.

“For instance, we could have a situation where a pitch is perfectly playable, but if travelling conditions, or conditions around the ground were icy or slippery and considered dangerous, then again those games would not go ahead. Of course all that is taken into account.

“So it’s not just about the pitch. It’s about the conditions around the venue as well. Also, if there was a red warning issued, that would give serious cause for thought. I can’t comment on individual games, but if there was a red warning issued, we would have to give serious heed to that. But again I would say Friday would be the earliest when making that call. And if we need to use that contingency plan we’ll give it to people than.”

Which the forecast is for the snow to ease by late Friday, the wintry conditions are set to persist for several days afterwards. Another potential clash is the O’Byrne Cup final between Westmeath and Meath, twice postponed already, is set for Sunday March 11th; if their football league games are postponed then that final will likely be postponed indefinitely.

The Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA), meanwhile, aren’t taking any chances and have already postponed their Annual Congress, which was due to be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dundalk this weekend. It has been rescheduled for the same venue on the weekend of April 27th-28th.

“It is unfortunate that we have to make the decision to cancel but it would be remiss of us to ignore the severe weather warnings for later this week,” said a LGFA statement. 

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