Connacht chiefs defend no-refund policy after FBD League postponement

Connacht GAA Council chiefs have defended their decision not to issue cash refunds to supporters after yesterday’s FBD League game in Castlebar, between Mayo and Galway, was postponed due to a frozen pitch.

The 2,000 fans at MacHale Park yesterday were given tickets to allow them to attend any 2018 FBD League fixture, shortly after referee, Paddy Neilan, called the game off at 2pm, for ‘player welfare’ reasons.

Many irate Mayo and Galway fans took to social media to vent their anger about the timing of the announcement to postpone the game, and also that no cash refunds were available.

However, a Connacht GAA Council spokesperson said, last night: “From a security point of view, we don’t keep that amount of money on the ground. It had been moved off-site, when the decision was taken to postpone the game.

“It would be GAA policy, in the event of a game being postponed or cancelled, that we would offer a ticket for the re-fixture, but, in this instance, we’ve extended that to any game in the FBD League. Anybody who attended yesterday’s game was issued with a ticket that entitles them to attend any FBD League fixture this year.

“So, that can be the refixture between Mayo and Galway, next Friday evening, or any other game in the competition.

“We gave every opportunity for the pitch to thaw out and the game to go ahead. We even looked at postponing it for half-an-hour,” added the spokesperson.

“But the decision was made that delaying the throw-in for thirty minutes would make no significant difference, in light of the heavy frost overnight.

“Player safety was paramount in the decision to postpone the game.”

Galway boss, Kevin Walsh said he was “very disappointed” at the last-minute decision to call off yesterday’s tie

“We’d be very disappointed,” he said. “We left Loughgeorge [Galway GAA’s base] at 11.30am. You expect to get that call before it happened (at 2pm).

“It’s not as if we have a 12-hour day of sunlight, at this time of the year. It is disappointing.

“To be turning around, getting on the bus going home, with the Sunday fully gone...

“It’s not where you want to be. But, definitely, that call should have been made.”

Walsh, who is due to bring his Galway team back to Castlebar next Friday evening, for the re-fixture, also had some sympathy for supporters of his team who had travelled from as far away as Connemara for yesterday’s game.

“We can’t be thinking about ourselves. It’s all the supporters that left home this morning, loading up, and the price of petrol and diesel heading up here. Some of them came from the likes of Leitir Mór to see guys making their debuts. I see they’ll get a ticket to go to the next game, but I’m sure that won’t fill their tanks. It’s disappointing.”

Meanwhile, Galway will have to plan without Gary Sice, for their return to Division 1 football, after the Corofin forward informed Kevin Walsh of his decision to retire from inter-county football.

Sice, who turned 33 in November, made his inter-county debut in 2007, and his final game for the Tribesmen was last summer’s Connacht final defeat to Roscommon, at Pearse Stadium.

Sice is still involved with Corofin in their All-Ireland club championship campaign, which continues in a fortnight’s time, against British champions, Fulham Irish, and would be unavailable to Galway until their involvement in the competition concludes, but he has confirmed to team management his decision to step back from the county game. Already, Walsh will be without the retired Michael Meehan and Finian Hanley, while captain, Gary O’Donnell, and a number of other front-line players will miss league action.

“Obviously, Michael Meehan, Gary Sice, and Finian Hanley have called it a day,” said Walsh. “Sean Armstrong is still undergoing his own programme. Whether he will make league or not, at this stage, it will be tight.

“Gary O’Donnell is (out until) mid-league, Fiontán Ó Curraoin will miss the league, Michael Daly will probably miss the whole league, as well. It’s disappointing for us to get to Division 1 and to be missing that amount.”

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