Clubs can now report prohibited county training directly to GAA
Croke Park are keen to allow clubs have their window before county training returns
Clubs can now report breaches of intercounty training directly to the GAA. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
In a further statement of their intent to punish county teams who so much as try to break into the club playing window, Croke Park has set up a sort of direct complaint line for clubs to allow them inform of any “grievance” in relation to the availability of players or the staging of collective training ahead of the agreed date of September 14th.
It follows last Friday’s explicit u-turn on the matter, and allows clubs to effectively bypass the county board, if desired, should they have even a suspicion of any such breaches.
With anecdotal evidence that some county teams had already resumed some form of training, even ahead of the opening of the club window from July 17th, a memo to all units of the Association from Croke Park said: “If a club has a grievance in relation to the availability of their County players, or feel a County team in their County are holding collective training sessions before September 14th, they are encouraged to submit a formal complaint to Croke Park.”
In a conference call on with county chairs last Friday, association president John Horan and director-general Tom Ryan spelled out that the practice was not to be tolerated. A week after the GAA unveiled its championship details for a proposed deferred championship, but initially distanced itself from any punishment for county teams jumping the gun, the clampdown on any such breaches is now clear.
“Our County Chairpersons have agreed to assist us in ensuring that these arrangements are observed in an effort to preserve the integrity of the club window and ensure a common starting point and a level playing field for county teams. Individually and collectively, it was agreed that every county will commit to facilitating full availability of club players for the period and, specifically, that intercounty training will not take place before September 14th.”
Now clubs have been given the chance to make a compliant of their own, the memo adding: “Any such correspondence must come from the official Secretary email address of the club. The county in question will be forwarded the correspondence and asked to respond to the issues raised within 48 hours of receipt.”
The rule mentioned for enforcement, 7.2 (e) covers “misconduct considered to have discredited the association” and carries punishments ranging from the suspension of individuals and units, fines, disqualification and expulsion from the association. Whereas that might be seen to include expulsion from championship the belief is that sanctions will be more directed at county officers and team managers, who will face suspension if their administrations are seen to be in breach of the directive.
Even if a county panel does not train collectively before the permitted September 14th date, clubs are being encouraged to make a complaint should one of their players be pulled away from club training for a team meeting, analysis, or walk-through session with the county side.
Croke Park has also re-emphasised that that there would be no relaxation of the September 14th deadline nor any reconsideration of the withholding of insurance cover until that date, as had been called for by the Gaelic Players’ Association (GPA) in a statement earlier this week.
There had been a growing view that perhaps players whose clubs had been eliminated from county championship action might be allowed return to training with the county, only that was rejected on the grounds that it would incentivise counties to run rushed competitions and militate against all teams starting at the same time. How successful the crackdown will be remains to be seen but one county officer told The Irish Times that it was under consideration to write to the county managers and state that breach of the directive would result in their appointments being revoked.