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Armagh girls' fury over semi mix-up

By John Campbell

Published 19/04/2016

Joy to pain: Caroline O’Hanlon lifts the league title but the All-Ireland bid ended in controversy
Joy to pain: Caroline O’Hanlon lifts the league title but the All-Ireland bid ended in controversy

The Armagh ladies football team have issued a strongly worded statement criticising the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) after the Orchard County controversially missed out on a place in the All-Ireland Championship semi-finals.

After Armagh lost 4-7 to 2-16 to Cork in a rearranged fixture on Sunday, the LGFA initially stated that the Ulster county would meet Mayo in the last four but later, having re-assessed the rules of the competition, declared that Kerry, due to a superior scoring difference, had in fact qualified and not Armagh.

At first there was a great sense of frustration in Armagh which subsequently morphed into anger.

The LGFA admitted that Armagh were incorrectly informed they had made it into the semi-finals, adding that a miscommunication had taken place.

That was of little consolation to Armagh, though they have said that they won't take legal action over the matter but have vowed to ensure that there will be no recurrence of this in any other county.

Armagh's statement read: "We have decided as a team not to pursue the injustice and total disregard regarding our treatment by the LGFA in their decision of initially and officially informing our team we had qualified for a Division 1 league semi-final for the first time in the history of Armagh ladies football to be then told via a phone call that we had not qualified.

"Our team have been treated very poorly over the past two weekends. We would like to thank the Armagh ladies County Board, in particular our Chairman Owen Reel, who had offered to fight a legal case on our behalf.

"We feel as a team involved in a sport that we see other Associations and players fighting for equality and recognition that what happened puts our sport in jeopardy as we constantly strive to improve support and finances to build the sport we are involved in.

"We will, however, do what we can in our power to see that this does not happen any other county in the future by fighting for change in the rules and regulations.

"We wish the remaining four counties in our division Cork, Mayo, Dublin and Kerry every success in the semi-finals."

The Ladies Gaelic Football Association was certainly left red-faced following the misunderstanding and a spokesperson commented: "Regrettably, after the Armagh v Cork National League game on Sunday, a miscommunication occurred whereby Armagh were incorrectly informed that they had reached the semi-finals of the league.

"Once the error was discovered and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association fixtures committee made aware of the application of an incorrect ruling interpretation, they rectified the situation and telephoned the Armagh team to let them know of the error.

"This was as a result of an oversight by an official and the re-examination of the situation meant that Kerry went through to the semi-finals."

A leading Ulster official has hit out at the manner in which he feels hurling within the province is "denigrated from time to time".

Joe Edwards, vice-chairman of the Ulster Hurling Development Committee, believes that the Christy Ring competition which gets under way next weekend can prove a vehicle for showing the sport in a better light here.

Edwards, working to promote the image of hurling, is convinced that Antrim's status in particular can be improved.

"I believe the attitude which would seek to see Ulster hurling denigrated from time to time is with us but I would counter this by pointing to the tremendous work that is being undertaken within Ulster counties to promote the sport," said Edwards.

"Tyrone, for instance, have produced a brochure outlining an in-depth five-year plan that is compelling. This points the pathway to the future and the Ulster Council is very keen to lend its support to the various counties particularly in terms of trying to get grant-aid from Croke Park."

With Antrim due to face Kildare on Saturday in the Christy Ring Cup, the spotlight will fall on what is the first game under the new management of Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton, Dominic McKinley and Gary O'Kane.

A rather depressing Allianz League campaign culminated in the resignation of PJ O'Mullan.

"This is a big game for Antrim and although they beat Kildare in the league, they conceded a big score and will want to avoid that," stated Edwards.

"It would be great to see Ulster sides make an impact in the Christy Ring Cup."

Belfast Telegraph

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