Could GAA officials have made postponement calls earlier?

The postponement of several GAA games last weekend due to the weather was widely criticised — the lateness of the decisions, specifically, in some cases.

The Mayo-Galway game in the FBD Connacht League wasn’t postponed until 2pm, when it was due to throw in, while the McKenna Cup game between Monaghan and Donegal wasn’t called off until just after the scheduled start time.

Should GAA officials have made their calls earlier?

They could have availed of Met Éireann’s expertise — its retired head of forecasting, Gerald Fleming says that county boards and provincial councils can avail of highly specific weather forecasts to aid their decisions.

“With Met Éireann you’d look at individual counties, we’d be producing forecasts on that basis for the Road Safety Authority, a county-by-county basis.

“What could be a joker in the pack would be the exposure of the pitch — if it’s very cold during the night and it freezes, the exposure of the pitch to the sun during the day may soften it up, and that’s unique to each playing area. That’s something we wouldn’t be aware of in each case, but we can certainly produce a very localised weather forecast.

“The county board or provincial council could provide exact details about the pitch that would help the forecast, but generally it’s the person looking after that pitch who’ll know it best.”

Met Éireann are conscious of the safety issues facing organisations when planning events, Fleming adds.

“We encourage people to use our services, obviously, and apart from the economic side of things we also focus on public safety.

“If there are thousands of people going to an event it’s a matter of public safety, down to their travelling on the roads to matches — particularly if they don’t need to travel and if the roads are not in good condition because of the weather. That safety element is something we’d be conscious of.

“I’d hope they get a better feel for it. I’m sure they watch the forecast or look at it online and all that kind of thing, but we do have a service for a number of customers where they can basically buy a block of telephone calls to the service.

“They pay a certain amount of money but they don’t have to use them all at the same time — they can choose when to do so, so they don’t have to waste the calls on forecasts that have no value, when the weather is very good.

“They can wait until the weather is uncertain and move then to ensure people aren’t put at expense to go to games which may not take place. That would hopefully be of assistance to them in making their decisions.”

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