'We should have walked off the pitch': anger after late changes to Ladies Football semi-final

'We Should Have Walked Off The Pitch': Anger After Late Changes To Ladies Football Semi-Final 'We Should Have Walked Off The Pitch': Anger After Late Changes To Ladies Football Semi-Final
Cork's Doireann O'Sullivan and Eimear Meaney celebrate after the game. Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane
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Digital Desk Staff

A short-notice change of venue for the All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football semi-final has been criticised after the Cork and Galway fixture on Sunday was relocated twice over the past week, with Galway manager Tim Rabbitt calling it "unacceptable".

Cork came out on top in Croke Park yesterday on a scoreline of 2-17 to 0-13 despite the upheaval, including the match being pushed forward by half an hour yet throwing-in 10 minutes late.

Both teams were only made aware of the final change of venue and throw-in time just two hours before the game was set to be played, with Rabbitt telling RTÉ's Morning Ireland his team heard of the plan while having a team meeting in Kinnegad, on the way to Dublin at around 11am.

The Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) has defended the decision to move the fixture, citing player welfare as the reasoning, despite the move meaning the game's television coverage on TG4 could no longer go ahead.


Earlier in the week, the match had already been moved from the LIT Gaelic Grounds as the Limerick Senior hurlers required the use of the pitch for a training session.

It had already been known and agreed that if John Kiely's men qualified for the All-Ireland final, which they subsequently did following their win over Galway on November 29th, the ladies could be asked to switch venues.

Parnell Park in Dublin had been set as the alternative, yet on Saturday morning the pitch was deemed unplayable due to severe frost.

The GAA was contacted to request Croke Park as the new venue at approximately 10.30am, to which they agreed.

Both Cork and Galway were informed of the venue change, with the LGFA explaining the early throw-in was to allow for extra-time and a 30m shoot-out in the event of a draw, without impinging on the All-Ireland Senior Football semi-final between Mayo and Tipperary at 3.30pm.

Warm up


Rabbitt said his team wanted to be amenable and agreed to the change of venue, so long as they would have sufficient time to warm up once they reached Croke Park. However, upon arrival and having been given their maximum 14 minutes in the dressing rooms, the team was told by officials the game would start at one despite the team only having six minutes to warm up.

"That's the time we should have taken a stand and walked off the field, until we got sufficient warm up time to play," Rabbitt said.

"The disrespect [the players] were shown once we hit Croke Park was completely unacceptable and there's nothing to be gained but this should not be happening."

Although Rabbitt regrets he "didn't take a stronger stance", Galway remained on the pitch and the game started 10 minutes late.

It's disappointing because theses are simple things, basic respect, that should be shown to a squad.

The Galway manager added that he did not realise the game had not been televised until afterwards, saying it was "not good enough for [the players] friends and families".

"For an All-Ireland semi-final, that's unacceptable."

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Rabbitt acknowledged the LGFA do great work for the game, citing last year's All-Ireland semi-finals and final as major successes, but said such incidents as Sunday highlighted the inequalities faced by women in sport, questioning why the game could not have been moved from the Gaelic Grounds to Semple Stadium in Thurles or Cusack Park in Ennis.

"When we talk about [the 20x20 campaign] and equality in the game, these kinds of incidents shouldn't be happening and the LGFA have to make sure that what happened here doesn't happen again.

"It's disappointing because theses are simple things, basic respect, that should be shown to a squad and it wasn't there yesterday.

"These are the tangible things that need to change, the things that are right in front of our face that need to change."

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