Louth GAA

COMMENT | County final call-off a disgrace as leaderless Louth GAA walks into another mess

Louth GAA

Caoimhín Reilly


Caoimhín Reilly



COMMENT | County final call-off a disgrace as leaderless Louth GAA walks into another mess

Apparently the opting was taken in light of spectator safety, not that that normally holds any bearing where the venue-setters are concerned. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)

Double, treble or quadruple the cost, make it a municipal venue with chess playing facilities or move it to the top of Annaverna. Whatever strings are attached, can the relevant parties just make sure the proposed new county grounds goes ahead in some form.

At it stands, Louth GAA is a joke. Months without County Board meetings; gripping clubs financially until they turn blue; woeful, almost worse than ever results on the pitch; no leadership; a disgraceful lack of planning, etc. These are all stomachable to a degree, but the postponement of the senior championship final, well, that’s simply a new low.

Ask Mario Rosenstock, Oliver Callan and Conor Moore to come together to sketch a script and they couldn’t have pieced together ‘Louth GAA 2019’ any better. A laughing stock. RTÉ would pay above the odds for such a comedy.

It’s beyond lunacy that the powers that be continue to nominate Drogheda’s Gaelic Grounds as the primary venue when it’s brutally underequipped. No disrespect to anyone attached to the O’Raghallaigh’s club, or those charged with the pitch’s upkeep, but it’s dilapidated and completely unfit for purpose.

Action from the county final two years ago.

The decision to call off both of Sunday’s showpieces was taken, or at least released to the public, at roughly 11:55am. St. Joseph’s minor team were between Monasterboice and Drogheda. Teenage lads, on their big day, nearly at the venue, only to be told, ‘pipe down, fellas, we’re going home’. Beyond a disgrace.

Apparently the opting was taken in light of spectator safety, not that that normally holds any bearing where the fixture-setters are concerned. The grass banks on the North Road venue are just about suitable for a herd of cattle, while those locked up in Dundalk Garda Station have better toilet facilities. Come to think of it, the animals in Dublin Zoo probably have, too.

Then there is a tendency in this part to renege on things. It was said after the Gaelic Grounds redevelopment plans were shelved that the O’Raghallaigh’s abode would be used no further, yet every county final and nearly all Louth home games have been played there since, a period of nearly two years.

How, after all the trouble and broken promises, can Drogheda still be classified as the best available host? Stabannon, Haggardstown, Dowdallshill, Clans and Dunleer are all superior where viewers and players are concerned. Ardee likewise, but the Deeside club have committed to works on their home and so would have been ruled out.

Action from the county final two years ago.

The argument regarding their suitability capacity-wise is rubbish. The rain would have put plenty off going on Sunday, while there were only three clubs involved this year - Newtown Blues, Naomh Máirtín and Joe’s - compared to 2018, where St. Bride’s/St. Mochta’s played Ardee St. Mary’s at U18, bringing the number of separate entities to five, which, in itself, would have swelled the large attendance.

Regardless, why was there no contingency strategy? The drawn junior final between Roche Emmets and Glyde Rangers was almost moved to Dowdallshill a fortnight ago on the morning of the match, due to the weather, only for Páirc Clan na Gael to pull through and perform impressively.

By 1:30pm, the supposed time of the minor game’s throw-in, the rain had stopped and surroundings improved. An official present has also confirmed to The Democrat that the pitch was playable.

Compare conditions on Sunday to those of two years ago when Dundalk Gaels took on Blues at the sodden, aesthetically woeful setting. Nobody can claim that this weekend’s weather was any worse, or even as bad. The overnight rain was incessant on both occasions.

And Drogheda hasn’t just let Louth Gaels down where the club calendar is concerned, the 2018 National League meeting with Meath had to be put off as well.

That postponement led to player outrage, and the same would have been the case 18 months on. What about the lives of those involved, the stakeholders who may have prior commitments over their days off to come? Could it be that those who made the controversial call were motivated by something spectator related, rather than the attendants themselves…

Seventeen senior county finals are due for decision today, 16 will go ahead. Louth, again, are the exception.

How much lower can we go? Well, the present bar is six foot under.