GAA Football

Kilcoo opt out of Down league final

Kilcoo advanced to the last four of the Ulster Club Senior Football Championship with victory over Glenswilly last Sunday. Picture by Philip Walsh 
Neil Loughran

KILCOO have informed the Down County Board that they will not contest tonight’s league final clash with Castlewellan amid concerns over player welfare.

Both clubs were officially informed by the central competitions control committee (CCCC) on Monday that the game had been fixed for this evening at St Patrick’s Park in Newcastle.

However, a CCCC representative explained that both clubs had been informed a date was likely to be fixed for the middle of this week after agreeing to a request from Kilcoo to reschedule the decider from an initial date of October 22-23.

Having come through a full-blooded Ulster Club SFC quarter-final clash with Donegal’s Glenswilly last Sunday, though, the Magpies feel it is unfair to ask their players to compete in a league final – especially with a semi-final against Armagh champions Maghery on November 13.

The club’s U21 side is also scheduled to play RGU Downpatrick in Kilcoo tonight at 7.30pm. Eight members of the U21 team are involved in the senior panel.

A Kilcoo spokesman said the decision not to contest the league final “wasn’t taken lightly” but, with a number of players carrying knocks, it was felt that “the welfare of the players has to come first”.

He said: “Kilcoo asked for the game to be rescheduled on the basis of player welfare. We have a lot of players carrying injuries, and to ask them to tog out again for such an important fixture three or four days later [after the Glenswilly game] is asking an awful lot.

“The players and management met up, and the committee met, and it was unanimous that we would struggle to get the team on the field. The league final is not to be sniffed at, it would be lovely to the double, but we don’t want to be putting a reserve team out.

“To ask the guys to come out after such a bruising encounter, we just didn’t think it was fair on the players. A league final is a big fixture.”

Jack Devaney from the Down CCCC said the situation was still “fluid” and refused to rule out a resolution before tonight’s game.

He said: “The league semi-final was played on October 20 and the final was initially scheduled for 22/23, but we had acceded to the view from Kilcoo that they didn’t want to play it that close to the Glenswilly game.

“We had indicated to both clubs at that time that the final would then be played around November 2.

“The reason for the midweek fixture was that it would have allowed sufficient time between that and them being in an Ulster semi-final.

“The actual game being played in the middle of this week was known to both clubs in the early stage of last week.

“We sent out the arrangements on Monday, but both clubs were aware before that.

“The last correspondence we received from Kilcoo, we responded to it so we’d hope there would be further correspondence and that it could resolve itself in some respect positively between now and tomorrow night.”

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