Longford club breathe sigh of relief as ‘draconian’ ban quashed by DRA

Club chairman says Killoe Emmets’ faith in the GAA’s disciplinary system fully restored

Killoe Emmets celebrate their Longford SFC final win over Longford Slashers at Glennon Pearse Park in 2019. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Killoe Emmets celebrate their Longford SFC final win over Longford Slashers at Glennon Pearse Park in 2019. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

The chairman of Killoe Emmets, the Longford club whose 48-week suspension from all GAA activities was quashed by the DRA late on Sunday night, has said that the ordeal had him questioning his involvement in the association at times.

Gerard Hagan, who is also Longford’s delegate on Central Council, welcomed the 16-page judgement that found his county’s Hearings Committee had been wrong to impose a 48-week ban on the club for the non-payment of a €750 fine back in January.

“In my life so far, I didn’t have a worse month of August in any year,” Hagan told The Irish Times. “You have to stand and fight for what you believe is right and take it to where it has to go in order to get the right result.

“We’re all just completely devoted to the playing of games in our members, especially the younger ones. And there would have been times over the past month where you’d be going, ‘This is a pastime, this isn’t a full-time gig.’ You’d wonder why you do it sometimes. The time you invest in it, only for things to go awry like that and decision to go against you. But thankfully it has worked out for the best. It would give you great confidence in the system.”

The DRA found that Longford’s Hearings Committee didn’t have the jurisdiction to apply the specific rule which led to the 48-week ban for Killoe and that subsequently, the county’s CCC was wrong to impose a ban which they described as draconian on five different occasions in the judgement. On top of which, they found the Leinster HC had been wrong to uphold the Longford decision and so they quashed it.

Serious impact

By the time the decision reached the Leinster HC, Killoe had in fact paid the fine on which the punishment was based. The initial incident – a failure by Killoe to field a team for an under-16 match back at the start of the year – had long since melted from view and the club’s senior team is involved in the latter stages of the Longford championship. Had the DRA ruled against them, the club would have had to stand down from almost a full year of GAA activity.

“I dread to think what it would have meant,” Hagan says.

“It would have had a serious impact on our whole club from an awful lot of different angles. Players playing football first and foremost, which is important any year but especially so this year. In the middle of a global pandemic, football has never been more important for health and wellbeing, the mental health of youngsters.

“But outside of that, the whole club would have been affected. I represent Longford at Central Council level in Croke Park. Have been unable to attend meetings over the last month. Our referees have been impacted. We have a number of young guys on county panels, lads who are hoping to go on scholarships to third level colleges – their education would have been impacted. Maybe some of them might not have been able to go to college.

“We had exhausted all other possibilities in getting it solved so the DRA was our final option and we’re delighted that we got justice. Your faith would be restored in the GAA system. It was very much a very rigid application of the rules. The DRA have no found in effect that the rule is wrong. They used the word draconian, which is quite a strong word. We didn’t expect that. But they were fairly emphatic.”

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