Raharney and Clonkill are set to face each other in the Westmeath minor hurling final at 1.30pm in Cusack Park tomorrow afternoon. Take two, two hours later, their senior counterparts are also set to battle with rumours speculating a protest from both teams will not tog out for their minor final in the interest of player welfare.
Raharney, the 2014 Westmeath county champions would be expected to play their underage stars such as twins Killian and Ciaran Doyle for 60 minutes and then expect the pair skip celebrations or comiserations to head stright for their senior warm up and another 60 minutes of hard physical hurling in a do all battle. Clonkill players Niall Mitchell and Darragh Egerton would be expected to do the same, including warm ups play for over 170 minutes over the space of five hours.
Physically to demand this from minors is extremely controversial given the recent launch of the National Adolescent Injury Prevention Programme to prevent injury in adolescents due to training overload. Mentally, to expect players to skip their celebrations with their peers some people they may never play with again or to lift their head after losing a minor final to go and attempt to play a senior final is extremely ambiguous.
Both teams have called for the minor game to be re-fixed or postponed as the two hurling strongholds have come together to declare to the county board that they will not be fielding teams for tomorrow’s minor final. With a number of county finals around the nation re-fixed to prevent a time clash with the Ireland rugby game it seems Cusack Park could be empty until the senior throw in.
The Westmeath Examiner reported that
Officials from Raharney and Clonkill met on Thursday night, and a joint letter requesting a postponement – signed by both club secretaries – was lodged with the county board. But as of this morning (Saturday), the fixture remains in place, with the county board expecting both clubs to tog out or face penalties in the event of the game not being fulfilled. Yesterday’s statement by Raharney said that numerous attempts were made to go down the mediation route, but that Westmeath GAA officials had “refused… to meet the clubs to discuss”.