TIPPERARY MANAGER LIAM Kearns believes that the controversial postponement of last Sunday’s planned Allianz Football League Division 3 clash has “compromised” the Premier County’s chances of promotion.

Irate Longford boss Denis Connerton has already had his say on the issue and Kearns responded to his counterpart last night.

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Kearns says that he “empathises” with Connerton, who stated that he was “fuming” after learning that the game was pulled at 12.30 on Saturday afternoon.

It’s understood that Kearns and football committee chairman Joe Hannigan sought an alternative pitch, but as many as six venues were ruled out for various reasons.

Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

A Semple Stadium double-header was originally pencilled in for Sunday but the football clash was postponed due to fears over the condition of the pitch.

The Thurles sod, however, looked in fine condition and much-improved on this time last year, when Tipp county board officials expressed concerns over its state.

Kearns revealed that the footballers also offered to play after the hurlers’ clash with Clare – but that request was turned down.

When asked to respond to Connerton’s statement, Kearns said: “I would have to agree and empathise with a lot of what Denis Connerton, the Longford manager, had to say about this postponement.

“I would agree that it was called off very early, at 12.30pm on a Saturday, and agree that it’s very disappointing that our game was the only (inter-county) game in the whole country called off at the weekend.

Longford manager Denis Connerton.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

There are a number of things that should be clarified in relation to this. Firstly, we are as inconvenienced as Longford are, and we will now have to play four games over four weekends.Secondly, we have four U21s not alone on our panel, but on our first 15, who are playing U21 on Wednesday and, if they win, playing next Wednesday also. Thirdly, our chances of promotion to Division 2 have been compromised, as have Longford’s, by this postponement.”

Tipp, should they finish in the top two of the Division and gain promotion, are facing into a potential run of five fixtures in as many weekends – with the final fixed for six days after the final group game with Armagh.

Colin Kelly’s Louth are setting a blistering pace in Division 3.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

But last weekend, Tipp lost valuable ground in the promotion race, as pace-setters Louth, Armagh and Sligo all won.

Having been without a game, Tipp have now dropped from second to fourth in the table.

Kearns added: “The facts of the matter as regards the postponement are: we were told at 12.30 on Saturday that our game would not be played in Semple.

“At that stage, myself and the chairman of the football board (Hannigan) contacted a number of clubs in the county to try and get a venue but that was not feasible.

“In fairness to the clubs, a number held pitch inspections but ultimately, none of them were willing to give us a pitch to go ahead and play the game.

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“We also suggested to the Thurles Field committee that we play the game after the hurling match. That would indicate how desperate we were to play the game and have it go ahead.

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“I would further point out that we had arrangements made to play Kildare in a challenge match next weekend, and other arrangements around that, but they’re now cancelled as well.

“We tapered off training last Thursday in preparation for a weekend game and we now have to readjust our training schedule to meet the demands we now face. We’re in the same boat as Longford are in that regard.

“It’s more disappointing when you consider how good a shape the Semple Stadium sod was in for the hurling match. In my personal view, Semple Stadium could have been well capable of catering for both games.

Clare’s Seadna Morey takes a sideline cut in Thurles last Sunday.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“We have what is considered to be one of the best fields in the country in our county – and it could have taken the two games.”

Kearns was not given an opportunity to be present at the Saturday pitch inspection, or express his views on it, before the postponement was confirmed.

And he added: “I will be recommending to the county board that there should be an alternative venue on standby.”

Kearns also rejected suggestions that relations between Tipperary and Longford are “soured.”

Last May, Tipp were scheduled to play a challenge game against the Midlanders to mark the opening of a new pitch in Carrickedmond, but had to pull out.

Kearns explained: “As regards that, we had a lot of injuries and also (club) championship matches fixed before we were due to play them.

“I informed the necessary people on the Friday that we could have a problem fielding a team and I personally wrote a letter outlining the reasons why we couldn’t fulfil the fixture, while also apologising.”

Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Kearns concluded: “I’ve learned from being involved with Tipperary football that you have to do everything the hard way, you don’t get too many breaks but in fairness to the players, they take inspiration and motivation from setbacks and come back stronger.

“I would hope we’ll come back from this latest setback and perform to our optimum in our remaining League games, difficult and all as the route is now.”

Tipperary’s game with Longford has been refixed for Saturday at Semple Stadium (5pm), and will form the first part of a double-header with the Premier County’s hurling showdown with Kilkenny (7pm).

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