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'I think it’s a women’s issue. There are no words really' - Cork boss fumes at venue switch

Ephie Fitzgerald expressed his frustrations after the late venue change for today’s All-Ireland semi-final.

Action from today's All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park.
Action from today's All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CORK LADIES MANAGER Ephie Fitzgerald has hit out at the late venue change for his side’s All-Ireland semi-final against Galway, calling the controversy “a women’s issue.”

The location of the last-four clash was switched twice this week. It was originally due to take place at the LIT Gaelic Grounds today, but was switched to Dublin’s Parnell Park due to a clash with a training session for the Limerick hurlers ahead of the All-Ireland final.

Just hours before the scheduled 1.3opm throw-in, it was switched again to Croke Park for a 1pm start after the LGFA said that “icy conditions” at the Donnycarney venue meant it was no longer playable. 

The game was also set to be brought forward from 1.30pm to 1pm, but did not start on time as Galway arrived to Croke Park late.

This is a logistical issue but I think it’s a women’s issue as well in terms of…and I don’t want to be making it that,” Fitzgerald said after his side’s 2-17 to 0-13 victory which sees them face Dublin in the All-Ireland decider on 20 December.

“We came up last night, we stayed in a beautiful hotel in the Clayton out by the airport, looked after brilliantly but it was a lonely, aul night. Girls had to go to this rooms and spend the whole night in their rooms alone and all this kind of carry on.

“We got up this morning and we were faced with…I actually feel more disappointed for the families and supporters of Cork ladies footballers that it wasn’t on television.”

ephie-fitzgerald Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Elaborating on his frustrations further, Fitzgerald added: 

“My father is in hospital and he had arranged to get a television into the room to watch the game, they are the people I really feel sorry for. We were here, we could see the game and that but where are we going with ladies sport if this is going to happen, where are we going? An All-Ireland semi-final. And really the result wasn’t the important thing.

“Galway, I’d say, were later than us coming. They got out of their cars, came in and had to do a rushed warm-up. 

“People will say it was justified, ye went over and played the game and ye win it, it’s not justified to me, that’s nothing to do with it, the result today had nothing to do with it.

“Maybe I’m in a stronger position to talk about it because we were victorious but I was disgusted and I felt very sorry for Galway, they were rushing onto the pitch after us and there are no words really, what can I say?”

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The LGFA has released a statement clarifying the timeline of events that led to the late switch-up.

It reads that “a morning pitch inspection deemed the original venue, Parnell Park, unplayable, due to severe frost,” and that the decision to move the game was ”made in the interests of player safety.”

“A request to accommodate the fixture at Croke Park was made to the GAA at 10:20am, and the LGFA was informed at 11am that the game could be played there.

“The Galway team, in Kinnegad at the time, received first notification at 10:53am that there was an issue with Parnell Park.

“We were acutely aware that Galway were travelling at the time, and they were informed that the LGFA had contacted Croke Park in relation to a potential venue and time change.

“Galway were informed, once confirmation was forthcoming from Croke Park, at 11am, that they should proceed to the venue, for a 1pm throw-in.

“The 1pm throw-in time was scheduled due to the fact that a result on the day was required, with extra-time and 30m kicks a possibility.

“Cork, who were based in Dublin overnight, were also contacted at this stage and made aware of the new arrangements.

“While recognising that a change of venue and time was not ideal, the alternative was to postpone the game. The health and safety of our players was to the forefront in the LGFA’s decision to proceed at Croke Park.”

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