Player safety is paramount, says Enniskillen boss Bradley

By Katrina Brennan

ON Monday afternoon, Enniskillen Gaels manager Simon Bradley said it’s a case of resetting now as they prepare for the rescheduled senior championship final this Sunday.

After the heavy downpours on Sunday morning, Brewster Park was deemed unplayable, despite the best efforts of club volunteers.

Bradley, having been around the ground a lifetime, said the likelihood of the game going ahead was in major doubt, given the amount of rain that fell in a short space of time;

“Certainly by 12 o’clock when there had been two hours of rain, and then by 1 o’clock when there had been three hours of rain, I knew then.

“I think the people that understand the geography of Enniskillen know that when the water table is high, when there is a lot of rain the water table gets high, and Brewster Park does then tend to hold water because there is nowhere for it to go.

“Some of the groundsmen were saying that this is not going to go ahead because there is nowhere for the water to go.

“Yes, it takes two hours for it to drain, but there is nowhere for it to drain to. That was the issue” he explained.

On Saturday evening the intemediate final was played in Brewster Park and there were no issues. Sunday was a very different proposition and you could see the large areas where the water was lying.

There were a lot of supporters already seated in the ground when the announcement to call it off was made, just before 3.40pm.

“They (officials) wanted the game to go ahead given the GAA TV and all that now, it is not as easy to switch it. The call would have to have been made at 11 o’clock in the morning or something like that, but at that stage, the rain hadn’t really done the damage that it was going to do.

“In terms of health and safety, myself and Seamie [Ryder] both said to the referee [James Lewis] that we would agree with whatever decision he made.

“At the end of the day, it is his head that is on the chopping block if a player gets seriously injured. In those conditions, the referee is going to be questioned about it.

“I think being able to take a step back from it now, it was the right decision from a player safety point of view, and I think the referee had no option but to call it,” said Bradley.

“We can understand why people are angry, it just has to be player safety first. Player safety overrides the need for the game to go ahead.”

Fermanagh County Board tried in vain to get the pitch playable but having an alternative option on standby is something that will need to be considered in future, says Bradley;

“I’m sure that the County Board will learn and maybe next year or the next big game, they will have an alternative and a cut off point at making a call.”

The County Board have already indicated that a pitch inspection will take place this Saturday and ‘an alternative venue will be identified for the same timeslot if Brewster remains unplayable’.

It would be expected if Plan B goes into operation, Ederney will be the preferred venue and Bradley is ready for wherever the game takes them;

“We will play it anywhere. You are in a championship final. You are not going to object to where it is going to be played.

“Both teams have the same opportunity, on the same pitch and the same conditions. We honestly don’t mind where it is played.

“Brewster Park is the showpiece venue and it is built for it, but I think the championship needs to be played next weekend. Whatever team gets through will have a fortnight then to the Ulster Club.”

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