THE Senior Football quarter-final between Palatine and O’Hanrahan’s did not go ahead over the weekend because two Palatine players were diagnosed with Covid_19 earlier the previous week. After a meeting of the Management Committee on Sunday morning in Netwatch Cullen Park it was agreed to defer the fixture until next Sunday. Subsequently, both senior semi-finals were postponed until Sunday week with the final down for decision on 18 October.
It has been a long and fraught week for both Palatine, their players and Carlow GAA. Paramount was the health and well-being of the two players and anyone else who might have come in close contact with them.
PJ Hickson, the Palatine Chairman, has worked closely with all involved. When the first player developed symptoms the morning after their third round game against Tinryland, in the interest of speeding matters up, the club opted to pay to have the player and another close contact tested. As soon as the positive diagnosis was made the HSE worked with Palatine to determine who else was in close contact with the players involved.
They got further bad news.
“When HSE came back they said all the team had to be tested. The whole team had to isolate and stand down up to Saturday 3 October,” explained Hickson.
As events unfolded Palatine sought to have their senior match against O’Hanrahans deferred until Sunday 4 October. If Palatine’s requested was agreed to and with games coming one week after another that meant the semi-final and the final scheduled to be played on 11 October had to be put back by one week. The club also conceded a walk-over to Clonmore in a group game of the junior C championship.
Carlow County Board Chairman, Sean Campion, explained the reason for not giving O’Hanrahan’s a walk-over. It was taken into account that the players were out of action until after 3 October.
“Obviously, that left us in a dilemma with the quarter-final. No matter how you go with it someone is going to be ruffled and upset. “We had a Coisde Banaisti meeting last Sunday. We had a request in from Palatine that they move the game back to next Sunday. We looked at the pros and cons of it. We agreed it was a knock-out situation.”
Having deliberated at length Palatine were given an extra week to play their quarter-final.
Some people are worried the Board may have created a precedence. Initially clubs were informed that if they had an outbreak of Covid_19 they would be obliged to concede a walk-over in games that they were scheduled to play. In the first round of the intermediate championship Kilbride gave the points to Éire Óg because they had an incidence of Covid close to their club. Campion didn’t allude to this particular case but he was aware Coisde Banaistí could be accused of not being consistent in their rulings.
“I know people will make the case other teams had to forfeit games along the way. Those games were forfeited in a league system. Palatine themselves had to forfeit a junior C game themselves in midweek. Teams who forfeit games in the league still had a chance of recovering and getting back into contention. In this situation that we are in today Palatine were going out of the championship. They had no other channel to get back in. We felt for the sake of football and to be fair to everyone we would put the game back to next Sunday,” he said.
The Chairman is also aware the county final is now going to clash with Carlow’s National Football League Division 4 match on 17 October in Netwatch Cullen Park.
“We obviously won’t have our county players available to us but hopefully we will have them back the following Wednesday or Thursday night to prepare for the championship. It is not ideal I know but we have to play the cards we are dealt with,” he said.
In the light of the Palatine ruling James Foley, the Kilbride chairperson, was not happy his club had to concede the points in the intermediate championship.
“There is a lot of clubs not happy over it. We feel there is one rule for one. There was never any mention of knock-out at any county board meeting or in any county board e-mails,” he said.
By Kieran Murphy