By Kieran Murphy
THE Carlow senior hurling championship has been thrown into disarray after the Carlow GAA competitions control committee (CCC) awarded Sunday’s championship semi-final to St Mullins when Ballinkillen told them they would not be lining out for the game due to a row over fixtures.
The problem arose just over a week earlier when the fixtures committee rearranged the Kildavin-Clonegal v Naomh Eoin intermediate football semi-final for Saturday.
That original match was abandoned at half-time last Sunday week when the Netwatch Cullen Park pitch became unplayable due to heavy rain.
According to Ballinkillen chairman Brendan Leen, the club only became aware of the clash when details of the re-fixed football game were listed on social media shortly after the football game was called off.
With five players on both the Kildavin-Clonegal and Ballinkillen panels, he said the Ballinkillen club made representations to the fixtures committee almost immediately. Leen also said he had ongoing discussions during the week with county board chairman Sean Campion.
Officers of the Ballinkillen club met their players and the management team on Tuesday where all were in agreement if the football semi-final went ahead on Saturday, Ballinkillen would not play their senior hurling semi-final on Sunday.
“If the football match went ahead we were not going to play the hurling semi-final in the interests of player welfare,” explained Leen.
Sean Campion confirmed he had been in discussions with Ballinkillen last week and again over the weekend but said he was unable to contact anyone in the club late on Saturday.
Early on Sunday morning, St Mullins were informed of the situation and Carlow GAA called the game off.
Just after 4pm on Sunday the two clubs were informed by e-mail of the decision to award the match to St Mullins. Ballinkillen are set for a long appeals process now.
“It is devastating. We have asked what the appeal mechanism is. We are going to appeal it and, depending what they come back with, we will have to appeal it to the Leinster council as well,” said Leen.
In the ensuing fall-out, Ballinkillen also pulled out of their intermediate B hurling championship group game against Carlow Town which was also fixed for Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday afternoon.