By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — The start of the GAA’s National Football League program was thrown into disarray last weekend when only six of the 16 scheduled games were played due to waterlogged pitches countrywide. The Down-Fermanagh fixture was the only one to survive the bad weather in Divs. 1A and 1B when it was switched from Newry to Ballykinlar.
However, not everyone was in agreement with the postponements and John O’Mahony, manager of All-Ireland champions Galway, expressed his anger over the cancellation of his team’s game against Donegal at Ballybofey.
“The whole thing was a fiasco, we had been in close touch with Donegal since earlier in the week and we were assured that everything was alright,” O’Mahony said. “On the morning of the game, the referee said the prospects were ‘quite good,’ and then we heard the pitch was unplayable.”
Certainly, the GAA now has a fixture headache going into the new intercounty despite a spokesman’s assurance that there was “no need to panic because ten games had been lost.”
There were no worries for the former Fermanagh player, Shane King, who lined out for Down against his old county and scored seven points in a 1-17 to 1-13 victory in Div. 1B. It was level at 0-9 at the interval. However, Down dominated from then on with King taking his opportunities well and then setting up Shane Ward for a vital goal.
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Kerry got their campaign in Div. 2A under way with a comfortable 1-15 to 0-12 triumph over Wicklow in Killarney. Wicklow should have been closer had they not wasted two good goal chances during the first half, while Kerry’s finishing was more clinical with Dara O Cinneide scoring a goal and Noel Kennelly five points.
Meanwhile, Armagh had to battle hard to see off the challenge of Louth by 1-15 to 0-13, with Antrim having much easier against London as they swept to a 1-19 to 0-5 success.
In Div. 2B, a late Michael Lawlor point earned Laois a 0-10 to 1-7 draw with Tipperary at Portarlington, and Wexford got the better of Waterford by 0-10 to 1-5 at Dungarvan.
Dublin vote in May
The GAA’s controversial Strategic Review Committee report, which recommends that the Dublin football team be divided in two, will be debated at a Special Congress probably in May.
The association’s Central Council decided last weekend that as a presidential election is scheduled for the annual congress in April, it would be advisable to refer the SRC report to a later date.
“It was decided to give the clubs more time to debate the issue,” said GAA president Sean McCague. “We wanted to get rid of any impression that we were trying to railroad change. It was felt everybody needed longer to digest the recommendations.”