No plaudits for the C.C.C. despite its U-turn on fixtures

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

Last week offered a worrying version of where football stands in the county. 

The fixtures wing of the Competitions Control Committee (C.C.C.) did its best to ensure that there would not be a level playing field leading in to the Wexford versus Westmeath Allianz Football League Division 4 final in Croke Park on Saturday afternoon, as in their wisdom they decided to schedule a round of All-County Hurling League games to coincide with the game.

Then there was a very public spat on social media as football followers and those involved at club level in promoting the game vented their anger. These heated exchanges made several references to the treatment of football, with many pointing out that no club fixtures had been allotted for the Sunday of April 16, the day of the Wexford versus Tipperary Allianz Hurling League semi-final.

Surely the behaviour of this committee, under the chairmanship of Denis Cadogan, must be condemned for such an irresponsible decision in showing blatant disregard for football in the county, coming hot on the heels too after the controversial transfer saga involving Ben Brosnan from Bannow-Ballymitty to Castletown.

Whatever the reasoning was for arriving at such a decision, football always seems to be an easy target. There certainly was no fear of a similar arrangement on a hurling day.

But the G.A.A. is also always capable of performing the sort of trick that will, they believe, deflect the negative attention such a decision will create away from themselves. Those responsible finally sent out an e-mail stating that the All-County League games fixed for the Saturday afternoon and evening had been re-scheduled owing to Wexford's involvement in the Division 4 league final.

But why were the fixtures made in the first place? It was known for several weeks that Wexford would be involved in the league final. Certainly there should be no dancing at the crossroads for those responsible from the top echelons of the G.A.A. in the county, right through to the C.C.C.

Whoever was responsible for the change of heart, they must be credited with forcing Wexford G.A.A. officers into undergoing a remarkably successful course of conversion therapy, resulting in the reversal of the original policy on these fixtures and then wiping the U-turn from their collective memory.

All of this led to them having to soften their line considerably on the issue in order to appease football supporters, by lending their minority support to the big ball game in the county.

But those involved in football will never wear it. Oh yes, they will protest, and make every effort to protect the game, but it was not the first time football was treated in such a manner, and more than likely will not be the last.

So we had a gathering crisis on the imposition of fixtures on a football league final day. And this time those fixtures were endorsed by those responsible at the helm.

That is clear given that Margaret Doyle, the county Secretary, supplied the fixtures to the local media for publication, with not even a hint at that stage that Saturday's list of games could at the very least be re-scheduled.

I would like at this stage to condemn Wexford G.A.A. on the enormous role it played in undermining football in the county. The dramatic U-turn will not change people's thinking.

Top G.A.A. officials locally have determined their position on football solely by the scheduling of a fixture list to coincide with a National Football League final.

They changed solely out of fear of a public backlash. The football troops were rather shocked at this latest snub. They raised a protest and some began to heckle through social media, with those in charge of fixtures eventually forced to go back on their original decision.

Those involved in football may have got some sort of a victory, but no doubt the officers responsible from the top down will be conspicious by their presence at Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, next Sunday for the National League semi-final clash with Tipperary.

Some will take their seats in the coveted central aisle of the grounds, while others will parade closely to the team, one week after they attracted condemnation from the football fraternity for a situation that should never have arisen.

It would seem that the backbenchers, comprising the football personnel in the county, will always be left to look on from a distance.

Wexford People

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