Sunday’s All-Ireland Ladies semi-final between Galway and Cork was overshadowed by a series of farcical events which occurred the morning of the game and since.
It was a day which increased scrutiny on the leadership of the LGFA , prompting calls for the LGFA to join with the GAA as one association.
These events come off the back of progressive talks between the GPA and WGPA to allow the formal coming together of the two associations to form one players association.
The controversy started at the beginning of last week when the game scheduled for LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, was moved to Parnell Park in Dublin.
It surrounded the logistics of a west and south-west team travelling east, particularly in the current climate.
Did it made sense to bring the teams to Dublin when grounds such Cusack Park, Ennis, or Semple Stadium, Thurles were more feasible venues for these sides. However, it was on the morning of the game was when the real problems began.
En route to Dublin, Galway were informed the Parnell Park pitch was frozen over and deemed unplayable. As a result it was decided to move the game to Croke Park and bring forward the throw-in by half an hour. The Cork ladies, having stayed overnight in Dublin, did not face the same logistical challenges as Galway who then had to travel further into the city and face the traffic. In addition to having to travel further, Galway also had a half hour less to prepare as the game was due to begin at 1pm.
Speaking to Galway Bay FM, Galway manager Tim Rabbitt had some strong words post game for the LGFA officials following these events.
“The disappointment is the way it was all handled,” he said. “It seemed to be a rush job at the end of it, so that’s disappointing.
“The LGFA contacted us at 11 o’clock and said Parnell Park was unavailable due to the frozen pitch and could we play in Croke Park. We had to have a quick management meeting and see was it possible. The way the times are in [Covid], we decided we would go ahead and do it.
“We were assured we would have ample time once we reached Croke Park for our warm-up and everything else. That’s not what transpired once we got to Croke Park. “
Rabbitt says Galway “were rushed through”.
“I think we had seven minutes to warm up. The way we were treated from LGFA officials, from the referee and the officials, was just disgraceful I thought. It’s just really disappointing from the girls’ perspective, and for that to cloud what was a big day for us. I’m not using it as an excuse. It did impact us, but we should have been more experienced.”
In another interview on Monday morning on Morning Ireland, Rabbitt stated regretting not taking a stand and walking off the pitch with his players unless they were provided with sufficient time to complete their warm-up.
There was further insult added to the events of Sunday afternoon when, on Monday morning, LGFA president Marie Hickey spoke publicly, saying Galway could have had enough time to complete their warm-up had they “not spent so much time in the dressing room”.
It is a setback for the women’s game which has been one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland in recent times.
Cork won the match by 2-17 to 0-13, and while Rabbitt was magnanimous in defeat, saying Cork deserved their victory and held no gripes about the outcome of the game, it was a bitter end to what had been a solid championship season in their bid to reach a second successive final.