GALWAY LADIES BOSS Tim Rabbitt has slammed the LGFA for what he calls “disgraceful” treatment of his players before their All-Ireland semi-final against Cork.
Galway boss Tim Rabbitt.
Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
The Tribeswomen shipped a 10-point defeat as they missed out on a chance of making back-to-back All-Ireland deciders against Dublin on 20 December.
But it was the events that took place off the pitch that dominated the commentary around this clash, as a late venue change saw the game moved from Parnell Park to Croke Park.
The game was scheduled to take place at 1.30pm but was brought forward to 1pm as Croke Park was hosting the All-Ireland semi-final between Tipperary and Mayo later in the afternoon.
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Speaking to Galway Bay FM, Rabbitt explained that they received word of the switch-up this morning at 11am. They considered not fielding for the tie before deciding to proceed with the new replacement venue.
“The disappointment is the way it was all handled,” he said. “It seemed to be a rush job at the end of it so that’s disappointing.
“The LGFA contacted at 11 o’clock and said Parnell Park was unavailable due to the frozen pitch and could we play in Croke Park. We had to have a quick management meeting and see was it possible.
“The way [with] the times [we] are in, we decided we would go ahead and do it. We were assured we would have ample time once we reached Croke Park for our warm-up and everything else. That’s not what transpired once we got to Croke Park.
We were rushed through, I think we had seven minutes of a warm-up. The way we were treated from LGFA officials, from the referee and the officials is just disgraceful I thought.
“It’s just really disappointing from the girls’ perspective, and for that to cloud what is a big day for us. I’m not using it as an excuse. It did impact us but we should have been more experienced.”
Remarking further on their experience today, Rabbitt explained that his side arrived in Croke Park at 12.30pm, 30 minutes before the announced throw-in time.
He says they were given assurances that the game could be pushed back to 1.15pm to give them more time to prepare. But after a quick warm-up in bitterly cold conditions, the game got underway.
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“I did appeal to the referee,” he said, “I did appeal to the LGFA but it just wasn’t good enough. If we had walked off the pitch then, we probably would have. But again, it was a disruption to our preparations. It certainly wasn’t the reason we didn’t win that semi-final.
From an LGFA point of view, a Ladies Football point of view — it certainly wouldn’t happen in the men’s game. It was really disappointing from that side of things.”
Cork struck for two goals in the first half through Melissa Duggan and Ciara O’Sullivan, which helped Ephie Fitzgerald’s side into a 2-5 to 0-4 lead at half-time.
From there, Galway were effectively chasing the game and failed to make inroads on the deficit in the second half. When asked if the insufficient warm-up time was a factor in conceding those early goals, Rabbitt replied:
“Yeah it’s possible. It took us about 10 minutes to get our second wind but to be honest, the girls started fine in the game, we just missed a couple of frees. We had a few chances attacking and we were pulled back for frees, and we didn’t take those opportunities when they were going. So, it obviously did have an effect on us.”
Cork players celebrate at the final whistle.
Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
In summing up their display in Croke Park, Rabbitt said that his side struggled to execute the fundamentals, but stressed that he was proud of their overall application throughout the Covid-19 championship.
“I’m disappointed with our performance but not disappointed in any way with the girls and the squad over the last four or five months. They trained really well and we were really well prepared in my eyes.
“We thought we had every box ticked but it just happens like that in championship sometimes. Little things went against us at different times.
“We’ll have to sit down and see exactly where we’re going and what’s the best way forward.”
When contacted by The42, a spokesperson for the LGFA said they will not be making any further comment after releasing a statement clarifying issues in relation to the venue for today’s semi-final.