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'Galway treated like they were the bottom rung on the ladder' | Tim Rabbitt

Ruairi Carberry
Ruairi Carberry

11:46 7 Dec 2020

The Galway football team were treated disrespectfully by officials from the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and the referee, according to manager Tim Rabbitt.

Rabbitt joined Ger Gilroy and Nathan Murphy on Monday's OTB AM to discuss the "unacceptable" lead-up to their All-Ireland semi-final clash with Cork.

Galway were allowed seven minutes for their warm-up despite receiving prior assurances that they would be given time to prepare upon arrival at Croke Park, a venue that was chosen at late notice due to Parnell Park being deemed unplayable.

"Once we got on the pitch LGFA officials and the referee came over to us straight away saying 'you have got six minutes to throw in," Rabbitt said.

"I approached both the officials and the referee and told them it was completely unacceptable, that we needed more time than that.

"We were given little or no respect at all. They just kept saying it had to be six minutes and the game had to go ahead."

Galway vs Cork All-Ireland semi-final Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Parnell Park was chosen as the venue for the clash following Limerick's GAA's decision to use the Gaelic Grounds for a training session for the senior hurling team.

Why a team from Munster and Connacht were asked to travel to the capital, when there were other stadiums closer to home available, is lost on the Galway manager.

Ultimately, both Galway and Cork were happy to accommodate the decision and did their best to ensure the fixture went ahead. Rabbitt and his players were informed of the switch to Croke Park as the team travelled up to Dublin by bus.

He acknowledges that the GAA are facing difficult circumstances with regards to coronavirus protocols, however, the ensuing events were unacceptable and they are avoidable barriers to the progression of the women's game.

Cork and Galway- dropped from the television schedule

The disrespect shown to the players was compounded by the announcement, ten minutes before throw-in, that the semi-final would not be aired on the television.

TG4, the station due to broadcast the game, had set up in Parnell Park and were unable to provide coverage with the late notice change.

Again, Rabbitt is understanding of this and did not point the finger of blame at TG4, but was shocked that provisions had not been made to ensure the visibility of such a high-profile encounter.

"I actually did not realise, I was so wrapped up in the team, that the game was not being televised. It is not acceptable to have an All-Ireland semi-final not televised," Rabbitt continued, noting that it was a lack of respect for the players who had returned during a pandemic to entertain those watching at home.

"If we are talking about progress, these are the things right in front of our eyes that we just need to fix."

6 December 2020; Saoirse Noonan of Cork is tackled by Lynsey Noone of Galway during the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Sports journalist, Aisling O'Reilly, who was following the debacle as it unfolded agrees with Rabbitt on this issue.

"It was just a fiasco from start to finish," O'Reilly said.

"I was waiting for it to come on and up popped an old game of Mayo playing. There was a last-minute announcement ten minutes [before the game] that it won't be televised."

On the issue of moving the match forward by a half an hour, O'Reilly had sympathy for the players on board the bus.

"All they're thinking is 'we have less time to warm up, my Mam and Dad can't watch, my friends can't watch, all of these things that should not be in your head going into an All-Ireland semi-final.

"It is just unbelievable.

"If we don't have these conversations, nothing is going to change."

"If someone gets injured here it will be on you"

The Galway players performed admirably, despite the obvious disadvantages that were presented to them.

For his part, Rabbitt was gracious in defeat and pointedly stated that this problem should take nothing away from Cork's performance on the day.

"It is not taking away from Cork. They deserved to win the game and they were the better team but it obviously did have an impact on our preparation," Rabbit said.

The central issue to all of this though is that the players' welfare should be respected above all else.

Galway take on Cork at Croke Park 6 December 2020; Melissa Duggan of Cork in action against Charlotte Cooney of Galway during the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

"The players are central to this, the growth of ladies Gaelic football, and we were treated yesterday like we were the bottom rung on the ladder," he continued.

"I appealed to the referee. I said 'if someone gets injured here it will be on you."

On a cold afternoon in Dublin that was a real possibility. After a tumultuous day, Rabbit's only remorse? Not taking the decision to leave the field.

"My only regret throughout the whole day is that I did not take the girls off the pitch because it was completely unacceptable the way we were treated," Rabbitt concluded

"I probably let the group down in not insisting that we got more time in our preparation."

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Read more about

All-Ireland Semi-final Cork Croke Park Galway Ladies Gaelic Football Ladies Gaelic Football Association Parnell Park Tim Rabbitt

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