SOME OF THE country’s top ladies football stars are facing the prospect of playing three games in three days this weekend.
The semi-finals and finals of colleges’ championship action take place on Friday and Saturday respectively, while the Division 1 and 3 relegation play-offs are slated in for Sunday.
The O’Connor Cup is the the top-level colleges’ competition down for decision in DCU, while Westmeath, Waterford, Louth and Wicklow are the counties involved in relegation battles in Abbotstown on Sunday afternoon.
Westmeath players, in particular, have been vocal about the heavy schedule with the 2021 All-Ireland intermediate champions affected as they look to avoid the drop to Division 2 against the Déise.
“Great to see Division 1 and 3 relegation games fixed for the same weekend as the college football,” Karen Hegarty tweeted yesterday with an eye roll emoji.
“Players potentially playing 3 must win games in 3 days!!! Surely it could have been fixed for any other weekend.”
Her team-mate, star forward and 2021 Intermediate Player of the Year Sarah Dillon, who is due to be in action in the Lynch Cup with TUS Midlands, added:
“With the relegation game being played the same weekend as the college finals could potentially mean myself and some teammates could have to play 3 games in 3 days!! Surely there is another free weekend to play this game?”
“How can the Division 1 relegation [play-off] between Westmeath & Waterford go ahead the same weekend as college finals,” former Lake county player and current coaching figure Carole Finch asked.
“Surely this can be pushed to next weekend, what’s the rush? Player welfare? same story.. different year.”
Antrim player Grainne McLaughlin shared that she “can’t comprehend this” and branded the situation “disappointing,” while Cork ace Eimear Scally wrote: “RIP to any college students playing this weekend who also have to play for their County panels on Sunday.”
The42 understands that these fixture dates were voted through by counties, with the general consensus being relegation matches would be played directly after the group stages of the Lidl Ladies National Football Leagues.
It’s believed that those involved were offered the opportunity to postpone this weekend if both counties could reach an agreement and settle on an alternative date, as was the case with Clare and Tyrone who will now play the Division 2 relegation play-off on 3 April.
When contacted by The42, the GPA stressed that “player welfare takes precedence” and suggested that any clashes could have been avoided had the LGFA pulled its inter-county fixtures.
The players’ body, who is working with the players involved, labelled the situation as “disappointing” and called for greater consultation with fixture makers going forward.
The42 also approached the LGFA and the four counties impacted for comment, though had yet to receive a response at the time of publication.
– updated 5.40pm with GPA comment.