Reigning Trench Cup champions, Mary Immaculate College, have been ejected from the competition without warning due to a fixtures debacle, according to their captain, James McNeive.
Following a series of events, Mary I were unable to fulfil their quarter-final fixture with GMIT and were subsequently removed from the competition though they have not received official confirmation from the governing board, according to the Mayo man.
“It’s so disappointing considering we won it last year. All we wanted was a crack at retaining it.
“All we want to do is play a quarter-final. We don’t think we did anything wrong, we know we didn’t fulfil the fixture but we wanted to fulfil it, but we couldn’t on a Friday evening. That’s not considered a college day, college finishes here at 1pm.
“None of the fixtures have been updated on the website so it’s not like we can go online and see what’s going on. We’re so in the dark, we haven’t a clue what’s going on. Our Gaelic Games Officer, our manager, is doing everything they can but we literally haven’t a clue. We don’t know what to do.”
— HE GAA (@HigherEdGAA) February 17, 2018
Here is the timeline of events, as told by McNeive:
The Limerick college were due to face Ulster University, Coleraine in Round 2B of the competition on Wednesday, January 30 in Abbottstown, however, Coleraine were unable to travel to the fixture due to heavy snowfall.
Speaking exclusively to Pundit Arena, a Mary I representative said that they had agreed to refix the game for Tuesday, February 5 and won the clash in Grangegorman by five points, arriving back in Limerick at 1.30am. The representative college were then informed last Thursday that their subsequent quarter-final clash with GMIT would take place the next day, Friday, February 8 at 1.30pm in Galway. Mary I opposed this fixture as a number of their players were involved in the Fitzgibbon Cup panel that beat CIT on Thursday and players had already committed to returning home for work purposes on Friday morning.
Both Croke Park and GMIT were contacted, requesting that the quarter-final fixture be moved to Monday, February 11. GMIT refused the request while Mary I allege that Croke Park informed them that it would break player welfare rules as the team could be playing three games in one week due to the Trench Cup semi-finals being fixed for Friday in Mallow, while the final takes place on Saturday at the same venue.
The Trench Cup is the second-tier of college football and is played on the same weekend as the Sigerson Cup. That competition has already been in the spotlight this week as it clashes with the All Ireland Club Football semi-finals, affecting two Corofin players; Liam Silke of UCD and Kieran Malloy of NUIG.
The Sigerson Cup has now reportedly been switched to the weekend of February 23/24, though no official confirmation has been made. However, Mary I say that the Trench Cup will go ahead this weekend, despite their request to have that competition moved as well, allowing them time to play their quarter-final with GMIT, meaning Mallow GAA will host two college weekends in a row.
Captain of the team, James McNeive, say that the reigning champions requested the change late last week but the college have received no official confirmation from Croke Park.
“We haven’t got any confirmation saying yes, no, or anything. We requested the change last Thursday and Friday and sent in a request yesterday morning again asking what was going on, and it wasn’t even a direct reply saying ‘OK, ye are out’, it was just a fixture list for the Trench Cup weekend.
“The fixture has it down for this Friday in Mallow, Trench Cup semi-final, GMIT v Letterkenny with no mention of us”, McNeive continued.
“We were told to bring down our gear and everything in case there was a slight possibility. We even went training last night in case there was any chance we could get that overturned.”
“All this came because Coleraine couldn’t play the fixture and we wanted to help them out.”
Pundit Arena have attempted to contact Higher Education GAA and will continue to update the story throughout the week.