Ballinkillen will go before the Leinster Council hearings committee to contest their expulsion from the Carlow SHC.
Having refused to fulfil Sunday’s county semi-final fixture against St Mullins on the grounds of player-welfare, Ballinkillen were thrown out of the championship by Carlow’s Competitions Control Committee, prompting the club to bring their case to the provincial body in a bid to be reinstated.
This controversy has its roots in the decision of Carlow fixture-planners to schedule the county intermediate football semi-final between Kildavin-Clonegal and Naomh Eoin for last Saturday evening (6pm), some 21 hours before the Ballinkillen hurlers were due in county semi-final against St Mullins (3.30pm).
Five members of the Ballinkillen hurling squad play football with Kildavin-Clonegal and the former club was not prepared to ask these players to play two games in the space of 24 hours.
Ballinkillen informed the Carlow County Board early last week they would not be fulfilling the hurling fixture, adamant the decision to fix the two games so close together showed a total lack of respect for Carlow’s premier hurling competition. Refusing to accept their subsequent ejection from the championship, the club has sought a hearing in front of the Leinster Council. Should Ballinkillen fail at this hurdle, they are likely to bring their case to Croke Park.
There has also been murmurings the club’s Carlow contingent may withdraw from the county hurling panel if the matter is not resolved.
“It was a completely unfair position that the club was put in. It was completely unfair on the five players in question,” said Ballinkillen chairman Brendan Leen.
“The intermediate football semi-final had to be abandoned the weekend before last because of bad weather. It was then refixed for Saturday, the day prior to the hurling semi-final. These guys have been training since last January. When it comes to the pinnacle of their season, we took the view that it was unfair and unjust to ask players to play two important matches within such a short space of time. We are devastated with the decision taken by the Carlow county board but we will contest it.”
Leen said the decision to fix the football game a day before the hurling semi-final highlighted how the latter remains the poor relation in Carlow.
“There are four senior hurling clubs in Carlow - St Mullins, Mount Leinster Rangers, Naomh Eoin, and ourselves. Five weekends out of the 52 are set aside to run off this senior championship. If you can’t allocate five weekends to hurling in Carlow without encroaching on it with football fixtures that are going to affect the hurling teams participating, that is a sad day. It is an insult to hurling. With only four clubs, how has it come to this?
“We have a county team and they are a fantastic bunch of lads. They were at the top table this year and it is the clubs who feed into the county team. How can you sustain success if you are treating your clubs like this?
“We took the decision to inform the county board on Tuesday of last week that we would not be fulfilling Sunday’s fixture in the interest of player welfare and the greater good of Carlow hurling. We offered alternative dates to the board but they were not accepted. Everyone was united in the club that we were doing the right thing and we would accept whatever consequences arose.”
When contacted, Carlow PRO Linda Redmond said the CCC are due to have a meeting on Ballinkillen’s expulsion and “will release a statement in due course”.
Elsewhere, the Limerick senior football final between Newcastle West and Oola has been pushed back a fortnight to Sunday, October 27 because of the Limerick hurlers’ team holiday, funded by JP McManus, to Barbados.
The Limerick football decider was originally pencilled in for Sunday, October 13, but with four Oola players — Richie English, Darragh O’Donovan, Pat Ryan, and Mikey O’Brien — part of the Limerick hurling panel, the final has been pushed back to facilitate these players travelling to the Caribbean island.
The new October 27 date still leaves the Limerick champions with two weeks to their Munster quarter-final against the Cork winners on November 10.
Should this weekend’s Limerick SHC final between Patrickswell and Na Piarsaigh end level, the replay will not take place until after the team holiday on Saturday, October 26.