Wexford board accuses GAA of breaking rules

April 29, 2008
Wexford county board has strongly criticised GAA president Nickey Brennan and Croke Park chiefs after their challenge to they way this year's National Leagues were administered failed on a technicality. Wexford, who were relegated to Division 2 of the NHL, maintain that the decision to allow Cork re-enter the National Leagues after missing the first two rounds due to the players' strike was in direct contravention of what they call a "two strikes and you're out" decision taken by Central Council on January 26. They brought their case to the Disputes Resolution Authority last Friday night, but were left fuming after it was thrown out on a technicality. A hard-hitting statement issued by Wexford county board on Monday night read: "Ard Comhairle CLG on January 26 issued a match day regulation wherein it decreed that in the event of a team failing to complete two games in either hurling or football, then that team would be automatically disqualified from the current National League. Cork failed on two occasions to field teams in hurling and football. "One would have expected that Ard Comhairle would enforce their own rules and therefore disqualify Cork. This did not happen. In the view of Wexford County Board, this decision could not be appealed until such time as the decision impacted directly on them. Wexford became involved when they received a notification on March 18 stating that the game against Cork would be played in Cork on March 23. This was appealed within the three-day period on March 20. This appeal was dealt with by the Central Administrations Committee. They struck down the appeal, without giving Wexford a hearing, on two "technicalities" by stating (a) Rule 152 C 'there shall be no appeal against a decision of any competitions control committee'. "They neglected to include the entire text of Rule 152 C which states 'there shall be no appeal against the decision of any competitions control committee in the course of the commencement of an investigation or the preparation of disciplinary action'. Clearly this was not a case where there was any commencement, investigation or preparation of disciplinary action. The CAC further or in the alternative stated the appeal was out of time. "In the circumstances they did not address the substantive issue which remained the same. Ard Comhairle brought in a match day regulation on January 26 and have not adhered to this rule in that they failed to disqualify Cork. Neither have they rescinded this rule. Wexford County Board then took the decision to appeal the findings of the CAC to the DRA." Wexford officials said that they received little or no cooperation from Croke Park in efforts to have their case heard. "Croke Park was less than helpful in furnishing information to Wexford County Board concerning this matter. This continued right up to the date of the hearing. The matter was originally set down for hearing before the DRA on April 17 but was adjourned as a result of Croke Park's failure to furnish documents which were required and which they agreed to furnish. Not withstanding the week's adjournment, Croke Park once again failed to furnish the documents and only produced them at 8pm on the night of the hearing. This is indicative of the behaviour of Croke Park in their handling of this matter. Croke Park then sought a preliminary hearing to have the appeal ruled out of order. "They again included Rule 152 C which has already been referred to. The DRA ruled against them on that point and said that there is a right to appeal a decision of the CAC. Their second point was that Wexford's appeal to the CAC was out of time. "An affected party has three days in which to appeal. Wexford's contention was that the operative day was March 18 when they became actively involved in the dispute on receiving official notification of the fixture with Cork. "Croke Park argued that the relevant date was February 19, the date the games were awarded to both Kilkenny and Waterford in hurling and the decision that the remaining fixtures would be played. The DRA in their wisdom chose to accept the latter and hence ruled the appeal out of order, without dealing with the substantive issue. It should be noted that on seeking clarification from Croke Park as to why Wexford was not awarded points, we were informed that we were not 'directly involved'. "It is apparent from the foregoing that Croke Park in their use of, the infamous word in GAA "technicalities" have succeeded in avoiding having to address the substantive issue in this case which remains unanswered. The question remains why have Croke Park failed to implement their own rules?" The Wexford board also launched an astonishing attack on GAA President Nickey Brennan. "One has to question both the President and Croke Park's rationale in their use of "technicalities" to prevent the Tribunal from hearing the substantive issue in this case. This is the same president who implored county boards and their representatives, at Congress in Sligo just two weeks ago, to accept rulings of Croke Park and not to seek to circumvent them by means of "technicalities" or other loopholes."

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