The 2018 O’Byrne Cup has been eye-catching for a number of reasons and Westmeath and Meath have been at the centre of a lot of the talking points.
Firstly we had Westmeath take on Laois in a two-legged affair that saw the Lake County progress.
Then we had (an admittedly) under-strength Dublin squad fail to win either of their two matches in the group stage.
On top of this, after being level after extra time, the semi-final between Meath and Longford went to a free-kick competition – one which the Royals came out on top.
Now Westmeath and Meath are due to face off in Sunday’s final, however, there is another twist in the tale of this year’s Leinster pre-season competition.
The Meath management initially threatened to pull out of the game due to safety concerns after the Leinster Council announced that the final would be the second part of a double-header in Portlaoise after the club game between An Ghaeltacht and Moy.
However, given the inclement weather which has wreaked havoc with the tournaments in Connacht and Ulster, there is a doubt as to whether O’Moore Park can hold two games back-to-back.
Meath, unhappy with this arrangement even offered to play the game in Mullingar as their home venue in Navan is unavailable due to a club hurling match.
While the Leinster Council initially rejected this proposal, they now state that Mullingar will be on stand-by as Plan B – but only as part of a double-header with the clash between the Kerry and Tyrone intermediate champions.
In a statement this Friday, the Leinster Council revealed their plans:
The following are the preparations for this weekend’s Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup football Final.
The match is currently fixed for a 4pm throw-in at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise as part of a live TG4 double-header broadcast with an AIB All-Ireland Intermediate club football semi-final between An Ghaeltacht and An Moy Tír na nÓg preceding it at 2pm.
However, given the adverse weather conditions that are forecasted for the Midlands on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, the following procedures are in place.
A pitch inspection will take place at O’Moore Park at 9.30am on Sunday morning to determine if the pitch is playable and also capable of hosting two matches.
In the event that this is not the case the possibility of switching the game to TEG Cusack Park will be considered. However, this would be dependent on the pitch in Mullingar being playable having hosted an AIB All-Ireland club junior football championship match on Saturday featuring Knocknagree v Naomh Colmcille.
Pairc Tailteann is ruled out due to the fact that there is an AIB All-Ireland club junior hurling championship semi-final being played there at 2pm on Sunday featuring Ardmore v Setanta and there are no floodlights to enable the staging of a 4pm throw in.
In the event that there is no playable pitch, the match will be postponed and refixed for the weekend of February 17/18.
Any changes will be posted immediately via local and national radio, leinstergaa.ie and Leinster GAA social media channels.
While players or administrators can’t do anything about the weather, insisting on playing these games as a double-header may lead to neither of them getting played.
Should the O’Byrne Cup final be postponed, the tie will take place on the NFL’s break weekend on February 17/18.
This would mean that the Meath and Westmeath footballers will have to play on six consecutive weekends starting on January 28.