Cork manager blasts 'ludicrous, pathetic' decision to move All-Ireland semi-final to Dublin

'If anybody can justify that to me, I'd love to hear the argument that that's okay'
Cork manager blasts 'ludicrous, pathetic' decision to move All-Ireland semi-final to Dublin

Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald: In the middle of a pandemic, we are be told we have to go to Dublin where the Covid numbers have been highest. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Cork ladies football manager Ephie Fitzgerald has blasted the LGFA decision to move Sunday’s Cork-Galway All-Ireland semi-final to Parnell Park.

Fitzgerald described as “ludicrous”, “absolutely ridiculous”, and “pathetic” the LGFA’s decision to refix the game for Dublin’s Parnell Park after the initial semi-final venue, LIT Gaelic Grounds, became unavailable.

The game, which has a 1.30pm throw-in, was confirmed for LIT Gaelic Grounds on November 16, but it was announced on Monday that the semi-final had been switched to Parnell Park.

When the LGFA booked the Limerick venue in the middle of last month, they were told by Limerick County Board that in the event of Limerick reaching the All-Ireland hurling final, John Kiely’s panel would get preference over the ladies football fixture if it was a case the Limerick hurlers required use of LIT Gaelic Grounds for a training session on Sunday, December 6.

Limerick secured their place in the All-Ireland final on Sunday last, and their final preparations include a get-together at the Ennis Road venue this Sunday.

The exact time of the Limerick training session is unclear, but the Irish Examiner understands it overlaps with the 1.30pm start for the ladies football game.

A Limerick county board official said that even if the hurling session concluded prior to 1.30pm, facilitating the ladies game would not have been straightforward given the requirement for a deep clean of the stadium before it could be reopened to the Cork and Galway players.

The LGFA explored Semple Stadium, Thurles as an alternative, but issues also arose there.

A Tipperary County Board official said “stewarding would have been a problem, but we did not close the door”.

Given the need for a floodlit ground, a number of other venues in the region were not suitable candidates to host the fixture between the 2019 and 2018 beaten All-Ireland finalists.

Beara-based Cork players face a near 10-hour drive to get to and from the game, with Fitzgerald remarking that the choice of Parnell Park showed “a complete lack of respect” towards the players from both counties.

The manager confirmed that Cork will overnight on Saturday.

“We are talking about two teams from Connacht and Munster having to go and play in a Leinster venue on the far side of the country. It beggars belief," said Fitzgerald.

“Would this happen in the men's game? Not in a million years.

"It wouldn't be allowed happen that an All-Ireland semi-final couldn't be organised properly and that six days before the game, in the middle of a pandemic, we’d be told we have to go to Dublin where the Covid numbers have been highest, number one, number two, the amount of travel involved, and number three, the amount of interaction that is going to take place over that 36 hours, or whatever it is going to be, amongst the group of 40-odd people.

If anybody can justify that to me, I'd love to hear the argument that that's okay.

“All we wanted to do was to be able to sit into our cars, travel to the game, play the game, give it our best, and come home and make sure that everybody is safe. That's not being afforded to us now. It is totally unsatisfactory.

“Coming from the men's side of the game, I realise how far behind the ladies game is in terms of expenses and stuff like that, but at the same time everybody deserves respect and the ladies aren't getting the respect they deserve here. There is a complete lack of respect. It is not acceptable that this is allowed to happen.”

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