Dublin County Board back Fingal’s motion to rejoin hurling championship

Board approve motion for next month’s GAA Congress to readmit divisional team

Mayo’s Michael Morley and Aodhan McInerney of Fingal contest possession during the National Hurling League Division Three match at MacHale Park in castlebar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mayo’s Michael Morley and Aodhan McInerney of Fingal contest possession during the National Hurling League Division Three match at MacHale Park in castlebar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

The Dublin County Board have approved a motion for next month’s GAA Congress looking to restore Fingal’s hurling championship status. The divisional team – made up of 16 mostly junior clubs within north County Dublin – will contest Division 2B of the upcoming Allianz Hurling League, but is

excluded from this summer’s Nicky Rackard Cup.

That Fingal continues to play an important role in hurling development in Dublin, and also after a vintage hurling year for the county, is only part of Dublin’s motivations: by not participating in any of the GAA’s championship tiers none of the players are entitled to grant aid or assistance from the Gaelic Players Association (GPA).

Conflict
Fingal withdrew from the Nicky Rackard Cup after 2011 over a conflict over club and county fixtures; now Fingal manager Mick Kennedy is adamant this conflict is no longer an issue, particularly as he’s wavering the six-day release rule, and believes there is still time to add the Fingal hurling team to the 2014 Nicky Rackard Cup.

“We originally applied to re-enter at the GAA’s Special Congress last November, only to be told at the time that we were too late, that it would have to go before 2014 Congress,” said Kennedy. “The feedback I’ve been getting is the GAA have no problem with us taking part, but that right now the structure doesn’t allow it.

“They’ve only allowed for six teams in 2014, but seven in 2015, so effectively we’re just fast-tracking that by a year with this motion. So we’d be hopeful. You can never be confident, but we’d love to play in it.

“Because right now I have to tell my players that they can play the league, but they can’t play the championship.

“No player wants to hear that. I was out last Saturday morning, with 50 players, and these lads put in every bit as much effort as any county team. There’s also the fact that by not playing championship, none of these players are entitled to the GPA grants. That’s only nominal anyway, but it is some recognition.”

GAA Congress is set for Croke Park on February 21st/22nd, and the motion to re-enter Fingal will require a two-thirds majority:

“I know Pat Daly (GAA director of games) in Croke Park is behind us,” says Kennedy. “I’ve also guaranteed the Dublin County Board we won’t be interfering in any way with their club fixtures, league and championship. So they’re behind us too.

“I won’t be seeking the six-day rule release, and all I will ask is that Fingal players don’t line out for their clubs the day before they play for us. I’ve no issue whatsoever with dual players, either.”

Hurling wasteland
For years, north Co Dublin was seen as something of a hurling wasteland, or at least as dominated by football clubs: the Fingal team was set up in 2008, initially to help address that imbalance, while at the same time soon made progress at national level.

They won Division 3A of the Allianz Hurling League in 2012 and again last year, beating Donegal in the final (who ironically went on to win the 2013 Nicky Rackard Cup.

As things stand, the 2014 Nick Rackard Cup is made up of six teams, with the first round set for May 3rd; Donegal will play Roscommon, Louth will play Monaghan, while Sligo and Tyrone both get a bye.

“We’d be willing to play either of those teams that get a bye first,” says Kennedy. “The bottom line is we’re not trying to enter this competition. We’re just trying to re-enter it.

“And it’s certainly no coincidence that since Fingal was set up, in 2008, the standard of hurling in north county Dublin has improved 10-fold.

“Every one of the 16 clubs have progressed. The other point is that we’re not in competition in any way with Dublin hurling. I mean if Anthony Daly came to me and said he wanted three or four of my players I’d be absolutely delighted.”