Another winter wipe out for sporting fixtures.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Another winter wipe out for sporting fixtures. thumbnail This was the scene at Iveagh Park last December when snow and ice resulted in postponed matches.

IT might be nice to look at, but once again snow wreaked havoc on sports fixtures at the weekend.

Another winter wipe out meant football, hockey, rugby and Gaelic games were all called off as pitches were left unplayable, if they could even be reached in the first place.

Additionally, the highly-anticipated Annaclone GP, which marked the opening of the Irish road racing season, had to be called off.

On their website last week, Newcastle and District Amateur Football League had an announcement that "all fixtures in the NADAFL for Saturday, 3 March" were cancelled.

Similarly the Mid Ulster Football League informed players and fans on their website that "in the interests of safety all MUFL fixtures for Friday (2 March) and Saturday (3 March) are postponed".

In a sporting season which has already met frozen pitches and cancelled fixtures, many teams were essentially playing behind the normal schedule. The 'Beast from the East' and 'Storm Emma' did nothing to ease these scheduling difficulties and it is not known when all matches postponed will be able to go ahead.

On their Facebook page, Banbridge Rugby Football Club said their 3rd XV semi-final v Enniskillen 2nd XV was off and was rescheduled for this Saturday, 10 March.

They added that the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) advised that "all Ulster Bank League fixtures were postponed" and they would announce new dates for these fixtures "as soon as possible".

And in a similar post, Banbridge Hockey Club said "all senior hockey had been postponed".

Official Down GAA announced last Thursday (1 March) that "all Allianz Football and Hurling league fixtures scheduled for the weekend had been postponed".

They also said the round 1 Celtic Challenge game between Down and Antrim, which was due to take place last Sunday (4 March) had been postponed "due to the adverse weather" and the Down U15 emerging talent squad football trials to be held at St Patrick's in Downpatrick had been rescheduled to this Saturday.

Bobby Reid from the NADAFL said the weekend's weather had led to a substantial number of games affected.

"We have lost about 200 games since the start of the season, including last weekend," he said.

However, despite this he said they remain on target for their usual league end date in May.

"We are basically on target to finish then and that is mainly because we started early in August," he said.

"Also, clubs did not have the success and a good run in the domestic competitions they would have had before, so that has helped the league fixtures.

Normally they would have played more cup matches, so that is probably masking the league a little." He said that even though they are on target, last weekend's postponements would "put us back".

"Us being on target did include midweek matches, but this will now have to include more midweek matches," he said.

"The other thing which is a negative is that we have St Patrick's Day and other events which clubs can decide if they want to play or not, so that will have an impact on it too."

He added the NADAFL had been looking at options "for over a year" to attempt to address the backlog of games during the winter months and they had been meeting with councils and the IFA in an attempt to find a way forward.

Mid Ulster League Honorary Secretary and fixtures secretary, Paul Suckling said there was a lot of frustration at more matches being called off because of the weather.

"We are all victims of the weather all year round and we have to deal with it as best we can," he said.

"There will be some catching up and there are one or two teams which are quite a way behind." Mr Suckling said they too would play midweek matches and he was optimistic the season would finish on schedule on 31 May.

"We can apply to the National Association for an extension if we need it, so I would be reasonably optimistic that we will get all our games played," he said.

He said that midweek games are now a normal part of the annual fixture list, but he wasn't sure if Sunday games were something the league would consider in a bid to conclude the season on time.

"There does not seem to be any Sunday football, but if two teams really wanted to play on a Sunday, then the league would consider it," he said.

Mr Suckling said all matches postponed last weekend would be rescheduled in the coming weeks and added the league's website is updated regularly.


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