GAA asked to overturn suspension placed on Naomh Colmcille’s grounds
Newtowncunningham club faces eight-week ban over charity soccer event for ailing man
The Naomh Colmcille tournament raised in excess of €5,000 towards making Paul Dillon’s family home wheelchair-accessible. File photograph: Ron Chapple/Getty
A Donegal man battling motor neuron disease has pleaded with the GAA to overturn an eight-week suspension imposed on his local club because it allowed a charity soccer match to be played on one of its pitches.
In February, Naomh Colmcille’s grounds in Newtowncunningham staged a tournament to raise funds to help him cope with the illness, though GAA permission for the event had already been refused.
“Hopefully the ban will be overturned and people will do the right thing. I’d like to see a bit of common sense about the whole thing. I was taken aback by it when I heard it first. We feel guilty. It’s not the club’s fault,” said Paul Dillon.
Donegal GAA’s management committee was alerted to the staging of the tournament, following a complaint, and found Naomh Colmcille to be in breach of the GAA’s official guide.
The tournament raised in excess of €5,000 as part of a week-long series of events held in the community which raised more than €85,000 to pay for works to make the Dillon’s family home wheelchair-accessible.
“People were so good. That gave us such a lift. We went to most of the events. The tournament was a great day’s craic, seeing all the boys togged out with the big bellies,” said Dillon.
The suspension imposed on Naomh Colmcille does not come into effect until an appeal is heard: “Due process shall take place and CLG Naomh Colmcille have the right to prove these findings incorrect or misapplied,” said Donegal GAA.
Saying he believed the complainant “didn’t think it would cause this kind of fuss” when they reported the charity event to the GAA, Dillon said he had spent 15 years coaching with Niamh Colmcille before illness struck.
“There were times when I’d have taken 30 kids to a game myself. I enjoyed it and I just got on with it. They were great times,” said Dillon, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease on January 2nd.