GAA will take ac­tion against in­ter­county teams re­turn­ing to train­ing early

The Irish Times - - Sports - SEÁN MO­RAN

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.

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 yes­ter­day’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.

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