Waterford chiefs vow to fight Croker decision

WATERFORD GAA chiefs have vowed to do all in their power to ensure both the county senior and minor hurlers will be in action at Croke Park on the same day.

On Monday, Croke Park fixtures bosses confirmed that Davy Fitzgerald’s side will face Kilkenny in an All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday week, August 7 with the minors out seven days later against Dublin in a last four clash.

The announcement has caused a furious reaction in Waterford amongst supporters who have called on the board to challenge Croke Park on the issue.

County chairman Tom Cunningham yesterday pledged he and his executive are in contact with GAA HQ in an effort to have a double-header played on Sunday week.

Cunningham said: “There is no question that we have thrown in the towel or accepted the change as being a fait accompli. I have never known such a level of fury among our followers as this decision has created.’’

Originally the minor game between Waterford and Dublin was fixed for August 7 with Clare and Galway scheduled to play the second semi-final a week later.

However the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee reversed the minor fixtures following their meeting on Monday, sparking a firestorm of criticism in Waterford.

Local radio station WLRFM was yesterday inundated with phone calls and texts in the wake of a story in yesterday’s Irish Examiner confirming the schedule changes.

Waterford County Board also came in for stinging criticism for accepting the situation.

Cunningham continued: “This is a shamefully unfair decision from where we in Waterford are positioned. Dublin followers are within a stone’s throw of Croke Park wherever they live in the capital but for our followers the venue means a round trip of between 250 and 300 miles for many of them. Where is the justice in asking, indeed forcing, them to make that trip on two successive Sundays.”

The suspicion in Waterford hurling circles is that GAA chiefs want to get Dublin fans “in early” ahead of the senior semi-final and have therefore scheduled the capital’s minors to play their semi-final at 1.30pm on August 14.

As things stand, the Clare-Galway minor semi-final will act as the curtain-raiser to the Waterford-Kilkenny senior clash on August 7.

Waterford’s minors will be the big losers in terms of support, admitted Cunningham yesterday, as he had anticipated the prospect of 15,000 fans travelling from the county had both teams been in action on the same day. He admitted: “I don’t know how many will go up on the second day — the minors will be the big sufferers.”

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