Newmarket's snow pitch battle in vain

An intrepid effort by east Clare soccer club Newmarket Celtic managed to round up 40 volunteers last Saturday morning to clear their pitch of snow for a Munster Junior Cup quarter-final against St Michael’s of Tipperary.

However, after an impressive show of community spirit ensured the pitch was playable, the club were forced to call off the match anyway on safety advice from the gardaí and Clare County Council.

They now argue they shouldn’t have to forfeit home advantage for the refixture, with Clare officials pointing out an orange weather warning was in place for Munster at the time the match was to be played on Sunday.

“We were told we had to have the pitch playable by 1pm on Saturday afternoon,” said club PRO Ryan Corry.

“So I went on Facebook and Twitter asking for volunteers.

“We got 40 people up to the pitch and we’re very thankful for the work they put in. A local farmer also helped us out. We got the pitch playable, but since we were expecting a sizeable crowd for such a big game, especially because it would have been practically the only sporting event on in Clare that day, we then checked with An Garda Síochána and Clare County Council and, since surrounding roads and footpaths were still not fully accessible or deemed safe for supporters, we were advised not to go ahead.”

If a pitch is unplayable for a Munster Junior Cup tie, the home side automatically relinquishes home advantage for the refixed game, but Newmarket argue that would be unfair in this case, as the decision whether to play the game was taken out of their hands.

The PRO of the Clare Soccer League backs that view, telling Clare FM: “There was still an orange warning in place for Munster, which really does mean you only travel if it’s vitally necessary.”

Munster FA administrator Gerard Delaney said a decision will be made at an MFA committee meeting, likely next week. Newmarket and St Michael’s are in FAI Junior Cup action next weekend.

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