GAC to discuss New York final
SOME important off-field deliberations tonight will effectively signal the end of the GAA's winter hibernation when much of the Games Administration Committee meeting at Croke Park focuses on an investigation into players who illegally participated in the New York football championship final replay last November 3rd.
It remains to be seen, however, if the GAC's close-season inquiries have managed to get to the core of the problem in the Big Apple. While the Kerry County Board has co-operated fully from an early stage in the investigation and, indeed, was prominent in bringing the affair out into the open, it is believed other counties who allegedly had players involved in the New York final have not been so forthcoming.
Tonight's meeting is a scheduled one "with a full agenda" and not called specifically to deal with the New York affair, according to GAC secretary, Sean O Laoire. However, it is expected the investigation into the so-called American excursions will take up most discussion.
Up to nine players are thought to have breached regulations, although Sean Geaney, one of four Kerry players named, did receive clearance to play in the drawn match and believed he was eligible to play in the replay too. The other Kerry players involved are Dara O Cinneide, Dara O Se and Fergal O Se.
It is believed that three Donegal players - Manus Boyle, Damien Diver and John Ban Gallagher - along with Armagh's Kieran McGeeney, Cavan's Fin tan Cahill and the Kerry trio of O Cinneide and the two O Seas have been given the option to make personal appearances before the GAC tonight. Dara O Se, who is on holidays in the Canaries with the Munster champions, and O Cinneide, who is studying for exams, won't be able to do so and, indeed, there is an expectation that some of the other players reputedly involved will also opt to reply by letter.
A written report from recently elected New York president, Michael Cassidy, will be presented to the GAC meeting, but, given that New York PRO Terry Connaughton has claimed the board has yet 10 receive the referee's report, it is difficult to see any light being thrown on the affair from across the Atlantic. The GAC's task has also been made difficult because of the poor response from counties to a request to report the names of players they felt might need to be "regularised".
The GAC has the power to suspend players for a minimum six months if they are found to have breached the rules. However, the actual suspensions - if indeed, there are any - may not be officially announced tonight due to the fact that some counties and players are believed to have responded by letter, rather than taking the option of personal appearances, and as such are due the courtesy of a written response.
Another transatlantic matter will also be discussed by the disciplinary chiefs tonight. Antrim footballer Brendan Elliot has been called to appear before the GAC to explain his participation in a National League match earlier this campaign at a time when he was apparently serving a suspension imposed in America.
Meanwhile, a smattering of inter-county football fare will resume this weekend. The McGrath Cup semi-finals take place in Munster with Tipperary taking on Limerick at Bansha and Waterford playing Clare at Ardmore, while four O'Byrne Cup matches are also down for decision on Sunday: Kilkenny face Carlow; Longford meet Offaly, Wexford take on Wicklow, and Laois play host to Westmeath. In Connacht, All-Ireland finalists Mayo meet Roscommon at Ballyhaunis in the Connacht League and Galway face Leitrim at Dunmore.