Gerald Griffins wide awake for controversial 9am final

Celebrations began in the early hours, and continued into the early hours as Gerald Griffins lifted the Limerick Junior Ladies Football cup before many arose from their Saturday morning slumber.
Gerald Griffins wide awake for controversial 9am final

Even though Griffins cancelled a supporters bus for their juvenile players due to the controversial 9am throw-in, a good crowd showed up, and in good spirits too.

One Groody Gaels fan carried a sign saying “Couldn’t even get a pre-match pint!”. Another read “It’s 3pm somewhere!!”.

Any late-risers missed the best of the scoring as players shook off any question of tiredness to fire 5-10 by half-time (compared to only 2-2 thereafter) as the Loughill/ Ballyhahill side won out 4-7 to 3-5.

Limerick’s only All-Star Dymphna O’Brien scored 1-6 for the winning side after sparking the outcry over the “comical scheduling” which rewarded their hard work with “disrespect and contempt”.

That didn’t bring change but ask her did the fiasco take anything away from the victory and her reply is just as firm.

“Absolutely not, no. We’re absolutely over the moon. It’s great for a small club like ourselves that struggles for numbers to be winning.

“We hadn’t won in 17 years and Saturday night when you hear some of the girls were only one year old when we last won something, and I was part of that, it made me feel quite old.

“It’s absolutely brilliant to be back to winning ways again and the celebrations continued into the early hours.”

The Limerick Ladies Football board set the game for the morning to accommodate five Groody players who were representing Ireland at the British and Irish Tag Rugby tournament in Cork.

Even though there was “no urgency” to play the game on Saturday, with no changes made to the master fixture schedule unless there’s agreement from both clubs, which didn’t arise, the game went ahead to surely take its place as the earliest county final of the year, if not ever.

The 9am start did cause plenty of problems for O’Brien’s teammates, with some only getting to bed less than seven hours before the team assembled for the game at 6.50am for the hour-long commute to Knockainey.

“A few of them were working until 11 or 11.30, so by the time they were in bed it was midnight. They wouldn’t have got much rest in between then and the match.

“It wasn’t ideal preparation and even getting up in the morning it was hard to know what to eat at that hour, but it seems we did the right things anyway.”

Although there was the missed promotional opportunity to play the game as part of a triple-header with the senior and intermediate finals later that afternoon (Ballylanders won the former and St Brigid’s strolled to the latter), O’Brien noted the extra coverage the match received.

“I’ve played in a lot of finals and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many photographers and reporters at a ladies football match either, so it was good to see that too.

“It was probably one of the best matches that I’ve played at club level for a number of years.”

However, O’Brien hopes the situation can be avoided in future.

“We wished the girls well that were going on to play in the tag rugby event. Like ourselves, they’re girls training all year as well, so we did realise how frustrated they would’ve been.

“The one lesson I hope will be learned is that if there are rules made one year, that they’re continued and they’re consistent.

“I’m not sure if tag rugby would change or if a soccer match would change to facilitate a ladies football match.”

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