Are slaps on the wrist enough?
Given that they’ve been running the sport for well over one hundred years, I’d have thought the GAA hierarchy would have come up with a set of rules that cover almost every eventuality to ensure that the playing regulations are observed by all.
It’s accepted that it is not possible to close all the loopholes, but it must be reasonable to believe that they will act with urgency to ensure that the legislation is altered to close the door on any which do materialise.
But it’s really pathetic that time and time again we hear of offences covered in the rule book and then players or clubs are let off without punishment or have token penalties imposed, because of techicalities which serve only to make the powers-that-be appear to be handcuffed by their own rules.
Take the case of the Dromore club being guilty of fielding an ineligible player - Ruairí Sludden, a substitute with minutes to go in the quarter-final match against Ardboe. It had been feared that this may cause the easy winners to be subsequently thrown out.
The CCC investigation was sparked by a communication from the Lough shore club querying Sludden’s eligibility, the teenager having been sent off for two yellow card offences in a minor championship game against Trillick after being shown two yellows some weeks earlier in another minor game, thereby triggering an automatic one-match ban.
When they investigated, they deemed that the St.Dympnas were, indeed, guilty of the offence as outlined - but they dished out jusy a 200 euro fine.
The law enforcers thus decided against imposing the ultimate sanction. But it seems they were not merely being lenient as some would reasonably interpret, a spokesman revealing that the CCC did not have the power to expel Dromore from the championship.
The explanation was that there was not an official objection by the Ardboe club, the implication I suppose being that - had this been received - it could have seen the county champions eliminated as well as being fined.
The St Dympnas reportedly claimed their blunder materialised in the wake of an inaccurate response to a query about young Sludden’s eligibility to a high-ranking member of the CCC, this indicating he was eligible to field in the tie.
Apparently, because the matter has been dealt with, it is now closed.
The whole sorry episode again makes the rule-makers look silly, because of the way their laws are frames and implemented. If some party is guilty of an offence then the punishment laid down should be applied.
Why should the opposition have to lodge a formal objection? Indeed, why should they have to draw the CCC’s attention to the fact that a player was ineligible? Should not the powers-that-be spot this and act accordingly?
If Dromore go on to retain their title, will the triumph be tarnished by this incident? They may argue that they were given erroneous information by an official, but the fact that they made the query in the first place suggests they must have suspected that the player might, indeed, be ineligible.
And the argument that they more or less had the match won by the time he came on carries no weight, since rules don’t change according to what’s on the scoreboard or how long is to play.
As for the fact that an official seemingly cleared him to play, this must hold no weight in their defence; otherwise, why would they have been fined? I’ve had a people in contact because they are not impressed by the fact that the club had sought clarification about the player’s eligibility status and were wrongly advised. ‘Should any action be taken against the person involved?’, they ask.
I assume there is a protocol to cover such a situation and will be surprised if it doesn’t engender debate when county committee meet. Whether it becomes public knowledge remains to be seen.
PS: There’s no connection but, as one door closes for the Ardboe club another one opens, with their minor team re-instated to the championship by Ulster Council after their exit because of a dispute over whether extra-time should have been played in the quarter-final against Cookstown.
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Weather for Dungannon
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 16 C
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Wind direction: South
Temperature: 11 C to 16 C
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