GAA will take action against intercounty teams returning to training early
Clubs asked to report incidents; measures likely to be taken against officials and managers
GAA president John Horan. Photograph: Tom O’Hanlon/Inpho
It hasn’t taken long for the GAA explicitly to reassess its position on counties defying the ban on intercounty training in advance of September 14th. In a conference call on Friday at noon with county chairs, 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 distanced itself from any punishment for county teams jumping the gun – as has been anecdotally reported on a wide scale – there is now to be a clampdown on any breaches.
Clubs are to be requested to report any incidents of their players being requisitioned for county training.
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.
The Croke Park officials 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 in a statement earlier this week.
There had been a growing view that maybe players whose clubs had been eliminated from county championship action might be allowed return to training with the county but that has been rejected on the grounds that it would incentivise counties to run rushed competitions and militate against all teams starting at the same time.
It’s a dramatic about-turn given that Horan was asked at last week’s media briefing whether there were any plans to punish unauthorised training.
“We’re not intending to,” he replied. “We’d like people to call them out but we’re not actually intending to impose any penalties.”
Ryan concurred but did hint that the situation might change.
“It is not for today,” he said. “What we are doing today is trying to set out a little bit of a picture for people of what the next three, four months can look like if we do our business correctly. If we need to put in measures, safeguards, protocols in around what is doing our business correctly, we will look at that and we will consider it then.”
It is thought that Croke Park were uncomfortable with the perception that they intended to do nothing about failure to observe the directive but accepted that this was the message that had emerged from last Friday’s briefing – which led to Friday’s move to lend clarity to the situation.
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.