Will it be third time lucky for Naomh Conaill?
Naomh Conaill and Crossmaglen Rangers are hoping that they will finally get out of the blocks this weekend and get to play their eagerly awaited AIB Ulster Senior Club Championship final.
The game, which has been cancelled twice already over the last two weekends, has once again been fixed by the Ulster Council for Sunday afternoon in St. Tiernach's Park, Clones. (Throw in 1.45 pm).
While hopes are high that the game will be finally played the Ulster Council are due to carry out an inspection of the Monaghan venue mid morning tomorrow (Friday) before making a final decision as to whether the game goes ahead or not.
Those hopes are based on the weather forecast which is saying that a thaw was to set to begin today (Thursday) and Ulster Council officials are understood to be quietly confident that the game will get the go ahead and that it will be third time lucky.
However, speaking to the Democrat last night Ulster PRO Oliver Galligan was insisting that a lot of issues had to be considered and that it was not just down to whether or not St. Tiernach's Park was playable.
"There is no point in having a pitch that is fit to play on and due to the roads elsewhere supporters cannot make it to the game or put their safety at risk by attempting to do so. A lot of issues have to be considered," the PRO told the Democrat.
Mr. Galligan confirmed that an inspection of the ground was to be carried out tomorrow morning and that a decision on whether or not the pitch in Clones is playable will then be made.
Meanwhile, Naomh Conaill are gearing up and preparing for the game as if the game is going ahead on Sunday.
"It's frustrating alright. But it is the same for Crossmaglen as it is for us and to be honest there is little we can do about it, only just get on with. But looking on the bright side, we are still in the championship," said Naomh Conaill midfielder Martin Regan.
"We are geared up and ready to play the game whenever that is. Hopefully, it will be played this weekend and that is the way we are treating it. As far as we are concerned the game is on this Sunday and we are focusing on it going ahead on Sunday."
As well as the obvious disappointment of two false starts the other big downside of the postponements and the prevailing weather and continuing hard frost and snow has made getting in some quality training and ball work very difficult.
Getting to and from training is also proving hazardous. It took Naomh Conaill manager Cathal Corey over four hours from his home in Kildress in Tyrone - a journey that normally takes an hour and half - to make Naomh Conaill's training session in Dooey on Sunday afternoon.
But not only that, the roads in and around Glenties have been pretty treacherous and the trip to Dooey on Sunday was believed to be a pretty perilous one.
Sunday's two hour session, which included a full game, was the Donegal champions first time to train outdoors in over two weeks.
And it is a similar story for Naomh Conaill's opponents Crossmaglen, though it would appear to have done marginally better in that they have managed to get training spins under their belts outside in the last two weeks. Oneof those sessions took place on a synthetic surface in Dundalk.
"If the game had been on Sunday we would have been very slow in getting off the mark. It would have been really very difficult for us," said Crossmaglen joint manager Tony McEntee, who admitted that it was back to the old style training and all they had done on one of their outdoor sessions was laps for 40 minutes ankle deep in snow.
Both Martin Regan and manager Cathal Corey stated that the Sunday session in Dooey had blown away the cobwebs and that the mood was very upbeat and positive afterwards and the focus was very much back on Crossmaglen and the Ulster final.
While officials in Ulster and Munster are playing a waiting game, their Leinster Council have called off their full programme of games for this Sunday, including senior hurling final meeting of Oulart-the-Ballagh and O'Loughlin Gaels, Killkenny and the football final meeting of Kilmacud Crokes, and Rhode.
The Munster football final meeting of Nemo Rangers and Dr. Crokes has once again been fixed for the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. But like the Ulster Council the Munster Council are leaving it until later in the week before they make a final call on their fixture.
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