The Cork soccer league at the centre of a row over a cup final clash with Confirmations which cost an underage team their place in the showpiece tie says lessons have been learned and it will work closely with clubs in the future to resolve such situations.
But the Cork Women’s and Schoolgirls Soccer League (CWSSL) declined to comment on the outcome of the affected fixture, or to confirm which club, if any, had been awarded the trophy.
The league also declined to answer a series of specific questions about whether two of the clubs who were caught up in the issue over the weekend — Avondale, which could not field an under 13 girls team because of the clash between the match and local confirmation ceremonies, and Riverstown, which declined to take Avondale's place in the final — will face any sanctions.
It opted instead to issue a joint statement with Avondale United saying lessons had been learned.
Avondale beat Riverstown in the semi-final early last week to qualify for the final against Midleton, which had been scheduled since April 28 to be played as one of several underage finals in St Colman’s Park in Cobh last Saturday afternoon.
But nine players and two coaches from the Avondale team had Confirmations on Saturday, and several other players were away on school trips.
It meant 11 of the team’s 16-person squad who were available for selection for the semi-final were unavailable for the final.
Avondale offered to play the final at a time to suit Midleton and on their pitch, but league administrators said the final should go ahead as planned, and they offered Avondale’s place in the final to Riverstown.
Parents of players on the Avondale team pleaded with the CWSSL to reschedule the final but their appeals fell on deaf ears. But when the background emerged, Riverstown declined to take Avondale’s place in the final.
In a text to parents on Friday, Riverstown coaches said they didn’t feel it was “in the spirit of the game” to take Avondale’s fixture, and that it was not “in the spirit of the competition or fair play in sport”.
In a statement issued to the, the CWSSL and Avondale United said they were disappointed that the Avondale schoolgirls did not have an opportunity to play in the U13 Shield Final on Saturday.
They said a number of solutions were explored but none could be resolved within the time constraints.
“Saturday was a great day, with lots of competitive soccer played which would have been even better if Avondale United U13 girls’ team had been available to play,” CSWWL chairperson, Alison Ryan, said.
Avondale Utd chairperson David Madden said members of their U13 girls’ team was disappointed not to play on Saturday.
“But these girls will be back next year,” he said.
“We acknowledge the significant contribution which the CWSSL has made to the development of schoolgirls’ and women’s football in Cork in recent years.
“The exponential growth in player numbers together with the increase in the number of Cork players capped by the Republic of Ireland bears testimony to this.”
The statement concluded: “We have all learned lessons arising from the experiences of the past week. The clubs and the CWSSL committee will continue to work closely together to resolve situations of this nature that may occur in the future.”