AUTHOR: James Rogers – @JamesRogersie
Fair play to the FAI.
They are not words I’ve uttered many times over the years but, in my opinion, the association has got it 100% right in awarding Galway Utd the three points from their postponed First Division game with Cabinteely last weekend. Last Friday’s game at Stradbrook Park was called off just two hours prior to kick-off after a confirmed Covid-19 case in the Cabinteely squad. While I do have sympathy with Pat Devlin’s side, particularly after their promising start to the season, it’s important rules are stuck to – like they weren’t at times last season. While Covid-19 can impact anyone at any time, it was laid bare at the start of the season that there would be no postponements for any club impacted. The instructions couldn’t be clearer, you could either play as long as at least 14 players were available – including youth players – or forfeit.
While it is unfortunate for Cabinteely that they have become the first club affected, this pandemic isn’t going away any time soon even if we are making slow progress with vaccines. As a result, it’s important that the FAI stayed strong – unlike last year – and enforced the relevant sanction of a 3-0 defeat as agreed by each club in the Participation Agreement signed before the start of the season last month.
While Cabo may appeal and Shels boss Ian Morris described the awarding of three points to Galway as “making an absolute mockery of the league”, it would be a bigger joke if a rule set out before a ball was kicked was abandoned this early into the campaign.
Calling games off due to Covid-19 cases would set a dangerous precedent and could, potentially, lead to all sort of fixture chaos down the line. Indeed, it was fortunate that Dundalk avoided any cases last year given their schedule or we could still be completing last season’s games. It’s harsh on Cabinteely of course but other clubs could suffer too. Not every rule is fair but I feel the FAI have got the implementation of this one 100% right.