Ali lands body blow to championships as late decision to cancel angers many

Ali, the boxer, said he “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee”.

Ali lands body blow to championships as late decision to cancel angers many

Ali, the boxer, said he “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.”

The storm named Ali punched harder and caused more havoc as it tore across the country yesterday, writes Ray Ryan

It even caused the cancellation of the second day of the National Ploughing Championships, the largest outdoor event in Europe.

Met Éireann issued an Orange Status weather warning the previous evening for 17 counties, including Offaly, where the ploughing festival is taking place at Screggan, outside Tullamore.

The National Ploughing Association (NPA) had delayed the start of yesterday’s events, but it was eventually advised to cancel day two of the event in the interest of public safety.

Exhibitors and people who were on their way to Tullamore or there already were irate that the cancellation decision had not been announced the previous night.

Those who travelled to Tullamore had waited for up to three hours in holding car parks as Met Éireann forecasts and health and safety issues were being reviewed. Shortly after noon, NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said that following lengthy consultations with the gardaí, Offaly emergency services, and Met Éireann, it was determined that the site was unsafe to open.

As a result, yesterday’s programme was postponed “as public safety is of paramount importance of all at the NPA”.

Mrs McHugh said the NPA would like to thank the general public for their patience and understanding.

Storm Ali does damage at the National Ploughing Championships
Storm Ali does damage at the National Ploughing Championships

All tickets purchased for yesterday can be redeemed today.

Motorists who had travelled from as far away as Donegal and Kerry turned around and headed home just as others were arriving unaware the day’s event had been cancelled.

The extent of the damage caused to some of the 1,700 trade stands, signage, and other property on the site was still being assessed last night ahead of today’s third day of the championships. More than 97,500 people attended the event on Tuesday.

Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association president Pat McCormack said everybody was obviously disappointed with the cancellation.

In the first place we all enjoy the event and the sense of get together. But secondly there’s a considerable outlay involved and the logistics of getting our team up here and operating for the three days is substantial.

“But safety considerations should always have the last word and we completely understand and agree that that has to be paramount.

Charlotte Galvin, Faye Ahern, and Lilly Patton, Ballinaspittle, Co Cork, brave the high winds at the National Ploughing Championships.
Charlotte Galvin, Faye Ahern, and Lilly Patton, Ballinaspittle, Co Cork, brave the high winds at the National Ploughing Championships.

“In hindsight, maybe a decision to cancel it earlier might have been wiser — just in the context of the official weather warning — and to save the times and hassle for those families with young children up very early, on the road, and converging on Tullamore.”

Let’s hope the storm won’t also have the sting of a dying wasp.

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