The then Longford GAA Chairman Eamon Reilly presenting the Duignan Cup to Wolfe Tones Mostrim captain John Newman following their win over Clonguish Gaels in the 2018 Senior Hurling Championship Final
The 2020 Senior Hurling Championship Final, Longford Slashers v Wolfe Tones Mostrim, which was fixed for Allen Park, Newtownforbes this Wednesday night, September 23, is OFF.
The Wolfe Tones club are unable to fulfill the fixture against Longford Slashers and informed the county board of the difficult decision they had to make of their inability to field a team for the senior hurling county final.
The matter will now be dealt with by Longford GAA County Competitions Control Committee in the hope of finding a resolution to this controversy.
The following is a statement from the Wolfe Tones Hurling club that was posted on their facebook page on Tuesday:
“It is with deep regret that we have had to make the difficult decision to inform the County Board of our inability to field a team for the senior hurling County Final which was fixed for Wednesday, September 23rd at 8pm in Allen Park, Newtownforbes.
“We are a proud hurling Club with a proud history and, God willing, a bright future. We hope that an alternate date can be found in which to contest this year’s final on the field of play.
“We thank all of our supporters for your continued support but most of all we want to thank our panel of players and management who have shown great commitment and dignity throughout the past number of days while trying to find a way to fulfill the fixture.”
On Sunday last, September 20, the Wolfe Tones hurlers released a statement, threatening to withdraw from the Longford squad over the midweek county final fixture.
The Wolfe Tones senior hurlers 'decided unanimously that they may have to resort to removing themselves from the county panel' if their senior hurling championship final showdown against Longford Slashers, scheduled for this Wednesday night at 8pm in Allen Park, isn't moved to what they consider to be a more suitable date, time and venue.
Highlighting player welfare issues and a desire to play the final in daylight hours and on a weekend date at the county ground, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, the Wolfe Tones players, in their statement addressed to members of the Longford County Board, said:
"We believe that hurling in Longford deserves to be treated with higher regard and with the respect that all football clubs similarly and rightly expect."
There are eleven Wolfe Tones players involved with the Longford county hurling squad.
Ten of their players are also part of the Mostrim senior football squad who sprang a surprise to knock Abbeylara out of the race for this year's Sean Connolly Cup. Mostrim, managed by Dessie Dolan Snr, will now face Killoe Emmet Óg in the Peter Hanley Motors Longford senior football championship semi-final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Sunday, 5pm.
The statement on Sunday stated the Wolfe Tones opposition to the final being played this Wednesday for a variety of reasons:
“We believe that the senior championship final should be played in the county ground, as has been the case in previous years and as will be the case for the football championship final. Due to the recent Covid-19 related announcements from the GAA, holding the final in a ground other than Pearse Park would also significantly impact the permitted attendance.
“We believe that the final should not be played under lights and should not be played midweek. All players have other commitments to fulfil and a large number of our players are currently working or studying in varying locations.
“This means players are being asked to travel significant distances after a days' work/study to play a county final. There is also concern that floodlights are not a safe standard to play hurling in Longford, potentially putting the player safety at risk.
“10 of our players are also members of the local football club. These players are potentially being asked to play 3 championship games in 7 days, which again is a concern for player/welfare safety.
”We believe that a conversation should have been held with an attempt to find a fixture date which works for both clubs involved. We are frustrated that this date was selected without consultation and without consideration for the players involved.
“The players wish to make it clear that we want nothing more than to represent our club in the county final. This is a goal we have worked towards since the start of the year. Given the unprecedented circumstances we have all experienced this year, hurling has acted as a means of maintaining social connections and the competitive element all athletes enjoy.
“We feel however that, given the aforementioned reasons among others, it is unrealistic to expect us to fulfil the fixture scheduled for Wednesday, September 23. We believe that hurling in Longford deserves to be treated with higher regard and with the respect that all football clubs similarly and rightly expect.
"Eleven Wolfe Tones players are current members of the county senior hurling panel. If the county final is not changed to a daylight fixture on a weekend date, we have decided unanimously that we may have to resort to removing ourselves from the county panel.
“This is not a decision we take lightly and it is regrettable that we may be forced to make this decision. We welcome a discussion involving the relevant parties, and hope that this issue can be resolved meaning the senior championship can be contested in 2020.”