The All-Ireland Freshers Hurling Final was thrown into chaos after the University of Limerick refused to play the game at the home of their opponents Limerick IT this afternoon.
The final had been fixed for the grounds of Mary Immaculate College, but was switched after Croke Park chiefs deemed their grounds ‘unsuitable’. LIT won the subsequent toss and were awarded home advantage.
UL stuck to their guns and turned up to Mary Immaculate College, but referee Cathal McAllister and his umpires headed to LIT. McAllister threw the ball in, waited the required 15 minutes and left the field with his umpires and linesmen. No trophy was awarded to LIT.
Ronan Keane, Games Development Officer at the University of Limerick, said that they were left with no choice but to turn up to Mary Immaculate College for the original fixture.
“LIT, ourselves and Croke Park had an agreement to play the Freshers 1 Final in Mary I at 4:30pm. On Monday evening, the CCC decided that Mary I was unfit or deemed unusable for the game and a toss for venue, without our knowledge would take place.
“LIT won the toss and we were informed yesterday (Tuesday) that the game was moved to LIT. We queried why the game was to be moved to LIT and the exact wording was that Mary I was unsuitable.
“Unofficially, on a phone call I was told that it is not an enclosed venue and shouldn’t be used. I was completely baffled by that because both LIT and UL are not enclosed venues for an unenclosed venue when you already have one is bizarre altogether.
“Mary I has hosted Fitzgibbon games over the years. The pitch is perfectly playable. We weren’t looking for any special treatment here. We were looking for the fixture to go ahead as it was agreed.
“We are very disappointed. Ultimately, we are gutted for the players. LIT don’t want this, we certainly don’t want this. We just want to play the Fresher Final, in a neutral venue and give it the respect it deserves.
“I was in discussions with Croke Park today and I said that we were open to any suggestion, but it would have to be a neutral venue. I don’t mind where they bring us. If they want to bring us to Croke Park to play it we would go.
“If Croke Park came back with a fixture for a neutral venue in Limerick tomorrow we would jump at it. We are not trying to not play this game. We want the game played. We just feel that we had to take a stand.”