Central Council and New York GAA conflict on player ‘exodus’
NY chairman states players are proactively seeking out clubs: “You have no idea the number of emails to clubs from players shopping themselves around constantly”
Armagh’s Ciarán McKeever: went to New York after defeat to Roscommon last year. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Perceptions of reality differ radically between the GAA central management and New York County Board regarding the supposed mass exodus of inter-county footballers to America.
“There are two sides to every story and their perception is that there is an epidemic of players solicited by our clubs,” said New York chairman Liam Bermingham. “First of all, there is no epidemic. There are 10 [non-student county footballers].”
Laois midfielder Brendan Quigley is the most high-profile player to depart Justin McNulty’s panel mid-championship. There is one other Laois footballer in New York along with three from the Offaly panel, three from Armagh and two Down players.
Bermingham was reacting to GAA director general Páraic Duffy confirming a motion has been prepared by Central Council to be voted on at next year’s Annual Congress whereby a player, who is not in third level education, cannot play in the New York championship if named in a match-day championship panel in the same year.
The cut-off to register for the New York championship is July 20th.
Duffy and Central Council feel the New York board have not adequately policed the flow of footballers into their system since three high-profile Armagh players – Jamie Clarke, Brendan Donaghy and Ciarán McKeever – packed their bags after defeat in the All-Ireland qualifiers by Roscommon on July 1st last year.
“Central Council was very unhappy with that at the time and management proposed that the rule that applies in North America, that only students can go, would be extended to New York,” Duffy said yesterday.
“The New York board asked us not to do that. They said they would police this system themselves and it would not happen again. But it has happened again.
“Players have headed off to New York with their teams still in the championship so Central Council met last Saturday fortnight and took a decision, on a recommendation of management, to bring a motion to Congress next year to extend the rule to New York as well.
“Players who have played in the championship or been on a championship panel will not be given a sanction to play in New York just as they are not allowed go to the rest of North America at the moment.”
Bermingham provided the New York perspective, revealing intercounty players are selling themselves as much, if not more, than the New York clubs are trying to entice them with financial incentives.
“Believe me, it works both ways. You have no idea the number of emails to clubs from players shopping themselves around constantly. I have seen, from those county players that you talk about, at least eight emails from them to numerous clubs here.
“They are looking to come over because, obviously, there is no work at home and they feel once they are out of [the provincial championships] they are looking to come over. There are emails to clubs showing what other clubs are offering them,” Bermingham adds.
The New York chairman also pointed out some fundamental differences with other North American competitions.
“The difference here between the New York and North American board is significant. There are a couple of reasons: in a North American club you are allowed 12 sanctions – summer players – per club and it is 13 a-side. In New York we are allowed four players and it is 15 a-side.
“The GAA official guide said six but in our own by-laws we reduced it to four last year to make [clubs] more of a home -based team. We also did away with the ‘weekend players rule,’ whereby players would just come in for a weekend and play.
“So . . there is 40-something teams yet the perception is that there is a widespread influx of intercounty players coming here.