BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE DONEGAL Competitions Controls Committee (CCC) has come under fire over the scheduling of a double round of games in the All-County Football League this weekend.
Twenty four games are down for decision this evening (Friday), with another round of games in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 on Sunday afternoon.
It is understood that another double round is planned for next weekend.
The ire of some clubs has been raised by the length of journeys having to be made on a Friday evening.
The longest road trip this evening will be made by Malin – who have to make the 230km round trip to Falcarragh to lock horns with Cloughaneely.
“It is insane,” said a spokesman for the north Inishowen club yesterday afternoon, Thursday.
“This is just crazy to run this in a county that is as big as Donegal. It might work in Monaghan or Armagh, smaller counties like that.
“I was talking to someone in Armagh a few weeks ago and he was able to tell me that the longest trip made in their Division 1 is half-an-hour – we wouldn’t even be in Buncrana in that time.”
This afternoon, Malin’s reserve players will begin gathering up at 2pm for the 6.15pm throw-in. The senior games are timed for 7.45pm.
“We have to be in Cloughaneely for shortly after 5 o’clock and have to get through traffic in Letterkenny, so we’re needing to leave at 3 o’clock sharp. Between kitmen and managers, the various club officials will be gathering by 2,” said the Malin official.
“The only advantage to this now is that we’ve known about this game for a month or so, but it’s still very hard on players who are in Dublin, Galway, or anywhere down the country. But next week they (CCC) have us down to go to Glenfin on the Friday evening.
“If this keeps up, players could be in danger of losing their jobs. Within 30 hours, we’re back in action again at home to MacCumhaills, which is two of the tightest games in the Division as well.”
AA Ireland’s online route-planner totals the journey from Malin to Falcarragh as 114.91km and estimates the journey time as being 2 hours and 15 minutes – meaning it could, conceivably, be after midnight when some of the Malin people are back home tonight.
Next to Malin in terms of the length of their journey is Aodh Ruadh, who have an 81km trek to Glencolmcille to play Naomh Columba.
The comments of the Malin representative have been echoed by Dungloe boss Declan Bonner, who deals with the issue in a hard-hitting column in today’s paper.
“In the club I’m involved with, Dungloe, we have a problem getting at least one, and possibly a second, back for our game this evening. I, myself, am working down around the midlands today and will be in a real rush to get back for the game,” writes the former Donegal manager.
“Some players in Galway, Dublin, wherever, won’t get finished college or work until maybe 5 this evening. Is it right that they should be asked to rush back for these games at this time of year?
“We have this period now between April and June where they’re trying to cram everything in and then all of a sudden we have nothing. Some clubs, if they get a double round of games this week and next, will have had seven club matches by the end of April – about 45 per cent of the total number of League games.”