GAA Football

Louth boss Pete McGrath angered by fixtures plan that could deprive them of their last game

Michael O'Neill, Bryn Cunningham and Pete McGrath share a joke at Wednesday's 'Sport Uniting Communties'. McGrath has expressed his dismay that their last NFL game with Meath may not take place Picture by Mal McCann

LOUTH boss Pete McGrath says the prospect of their last National Football League game with Meath not taking place is a “very shabby” way to treat the footballers of both counties.

If Meath lose to Down in Navan this weekend they will be relegated from Division Two alongside Leinster counterparts Louth.

In the event, the CCCC has decreed the outstanding fixture between Louth and Meath won’t be played as it would cross into April which has been designated for club football only.

Bad weather has twice caused havoc with the GAA’s condensed fixtures calendar. Meath and Louth were supposed to face one another last weekend but snowfall put paid to a raft of Allianz League fixtures.

Some of the postponed games went ahead the following day - Bank Holiday Monday - but too many of Louth’s players had work commitments and therefore the Meath clash had to be put on the long finger.

Faced with the possibility of an unfinished NFL programme doesn’t sit well with McGrath.

“If Down beat Meath on Sunday, then Meath are relegated and we aren’t going to play our final League match which I think is very shabby,” he said.

“When a League programme is drawn up every county is entitled to play their regulation matches – seven matches. And this match is [potentially] going to be scrubbed, which means it was going to be our last game prior to the Championship. They’re going to deprive us of that.”

Louth face Carlow in the Leinster Championship on May 13, while Meath face Longford on May 26/27.

“Louth and Meath is a local derby, it’s a competitive game, a feisty game, and it’s a game we’re looking forward to. I think because of sheer expediency they’re going to do away with that game, which is pretty unfair.”

McGrath added: “In my experience most counties start their club football in April. There’s a programme of matches drawn up in Louth and I have no problem with it. They’re going to play four Sundays of club football and because this county game may not going ahead because it might affect a club game is wrong.”

McGrath insisted the GAA had relented to the pressure from clubs to keep April solely for club activity.

“They’re trying to send out some kind of a message – people are putting pressure on them about club football – and here we are. They are showing disrespect to the two counties [Louth and Meath] involved here who aren’t allowed to play their last National League game. It’s something that has to be objected to, if possible.

“I think there’s an entitlement. The game was called off last Sunday through no-one’s fault. We couldn’t play on Monday because we had too many players working. In certain circumstances it’s expedient to do away with this match.

“I think this is the very antithesis of what sport is supposed to be about. Give people the opportunity to play.

“I was very annoyed when I heard that this could possibly happen.”


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