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'A pitch is a pitch at the end of the day' - No real complaints after late venue switch for All-Ireland club finals

Saturday’s senior and intermediate finals have been moved from Parnell Park.

THE REACTION TO the venue switch of the 2019 All-Ireland ladies senior club football final to Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds on Saturday is largely positive. 

LGFA Player representatives from each of the clubs at 2019 All-Ireland Ladies Club Football Finals Captains' Day. Source: SPORTSFILE.

Parnell Park has hosted the showdown since 2015 and was set to do so again — with the intermediate decider due to form part of a double-header — but the Ladies Gaelic Football Association [LGFA] was forced into a change a week out. 

The42 understands that there was a double-booking at the venue, but the LGFA made swift arrangements to accommodate the four teams involved. 

While defending champions Mourneabbey (Cork) and first-time finalists Kilkerrin-Clonberne (Galway) now go head-to-head in Limerick [throw-in 5pm, live on TG4], Naomh Pól (Antrim) and Naomh Ciarán (Offaly) face off at Cavan’s Breffni Park earlier that afternoon.

“For a couple of hours there we didn’t know where the match was going to be played, but it was literally only a couple of hours,” Kilkerrin-Clonberne boss Kevin Reidy said at this afternoon’s captains’ day in Croke Park. 

The match is being played in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, it’s a fine pitch and close enough to where we’re from — and for Mourneabbey. I’m sure they’re quite happy as well.

He noted that it’s probably more convenient for supporters now, and that the switch didn’t disrupt his side’s preparations. Mourneabbey selector Derry Cronin said that there were “a few headaches” at first, but all is set in stone now.

“We were preparing for a week to go to Dublin and suddenly last Saturday we had to rejig and reset the satnav for Limerick There were a few headaches, people with trains and what not booked but look, that only added to the attention that the game has got locally. 

“It’s much closer in terms of time travel, we’d be three hours from Parnell Park whereas we’re only an hour or so from the Gaelic Grounds. I guess we’ll probably get a few more [supporters].

“The prospect for some people of going into Dublin isn’t great, having to go across to get up to Parnell Park would turn a few off that will turn up to the Gaelic Grounds. I’d say it’s similar for Clonberne.

In essence, it’s an ideal location. I do think it’s a pity that the whole thing was upset and that Parnell Park was originally picked at all, even though we love playing there, but the Limerick venue in regards accessibility for both clubs and both sets of supporters is ideal.

“It’s a wonderful ground, great pitch, good sod. It’s good all round.” 

There were few complaints from players, too, with Mourneabbey and Cork star Eimear Meaney and Kilerrin-Clonberne captain Louise Ward both impressed with the Gaelic Grounds as the replacement.

eimear-meaney Mourneabbey's Eimear Meaney. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“Look, I think that the venue shouldn’t really matter too much,” Meaney said. “Limerick is closer to us, and it’s closer to Galway. It’s a neutral venue which is fair, it doesn’t favour either team.

“The pitch is probably a bit wider, Parnell Park is more of a narrow pitch so maybe as a back, I’m giving out about that! The forwards will be delighted with the space.

It doesn’t really matter where the match is played. There’s no point dwelling on it now it’s been changed. We’ll just move on and as I said, it’s not putting anybody out. We won’t be complaining about the venue change anyway, no.”

Ward, who landed her first All-Stare echoed her opposing player’s sentiments: “I’m actually delighted with it.

“We’re kind of both going mid-distance rather than going up towards Dublin direction, so it kind of suits Galway and Cork. I think a lot more support from Kilkerrin and Clonberne will travel as well, because it’s only like an hour and 20 or 30 minutes from where we are.

“The Gaelic Grounds is an unbelievable pitch. It’s probably different in shape to Parnell Park in that it’s a bit wider, Parnell Park would be a bit more narrow, but the surface is unbelievable.

“It’s a pitch at the end of the day but I think it will suit both sets of supporters, yeah.”

In reference to a tweet her club mate Shane Walsh shared last week questioning why the ladies football club finals weren’t played in Croke Park, Ward said that she hopes one day they will be at the Jones’ Road venue. 

“I think it would be massive for every player,” the Galway midfielder said, with different organisations and atmosphere reasons why they’re staged elsewhere. “Not every player plays county and has that opportunity to play in Croke Park like we had this year.

If the club finals were here it would be massive for a club player to get to play in the biggest stadium in the country. I was lucky enough to get to play here two times this year, and it was massive. It was a dream that I always had. When I heard the semi-finals were here, I couldn’t wait.

“I think it would be massive for people if they could experience that. Hopefully one day. I know the camogie is here, the men’s [football] and the hurling… even getting the semi-finals here this year was massive strides in terms of the ladies football as well.

“Down the pipeline, it probably will come.”

Both intermediate player representatives were also largely accepting of the change to Breffni Park.

“Well obviously we were looking forward to playing in Parnell Park,” Naomh Ciaran’s Amy Gavin Mangan said, “it being a double-header and all that.

The crowd would be building towards the end of our match so that would have been cool. Again, a pitch is a pitch at the end of the day. We’re just going to go out and play, and show how good we are, hopefully.

Naomh Pól captain Aine Tubridy added: “No, it’s no difference to us, to be honest.

“It’s a wee bit special, the last time we were in an All-Ireland, U14 Féile, I was captain and we won it there. When that was announced I was actually a wee bit happy that it was in Cavan. It’s a pitch that was lucky to us.”

Saturday, 23 November

  • All-Ireland Ladies Senior Club Final – Kilkerrin-Clonberne (Galway) v Mourneabbey (Cork); Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, 5pm. LIVE TG4
  • All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Club Final – Naomh Pól (Antrim) v Naomh Ciarán (Offaly); Kingspan Breffni, Cavan, 2.30pm. LIVE on LGFA Facebook Page.

Sunday, 24 November 

  • All-Ireland Ladies Junior Club Final – CL MacHale Rovers (Mayo) v Donoughmore (Cork); Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, 2pm. LIVE on LGFA Facebook Page.

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Emma Duffy

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