“We won’t play without county players - Liam McElhinney, St. Michael’s

“We won’t play without county players - Liam McElhinney, St. Michael’s
Donegal GAA officials are to face a call tonight (Thursday) for no more club games without county players as the thorny issue of club versus county has arisen again.

Donegal GAA officials are to face a call tonight (Thursday) for no more club games without county players as the thorny issue of club versus county has arisen again.

The call is to be made at tonight’s specially convened county committee meeting by St. Michael’s chairman Liam McElhinney.

The meeting has been called to discuss the issue of club fixtures after three of the county’s clubs - St Michael’s, Gaoth Dobhair and Glenfin - failed to fulfil their weekend fixtures.

Liam McElhinney, told the Democrat that they did not fulfil their fixture in Division One of the ACFL against Naomh Conaill, at the Bridge on Sunday, on player welfare grounds.

The St Michael’s official also told the Democrat that the club would be playing no more league games without their five county men.

Christy Toye, Martin McElhinney, Colm McFadden, Daniel McLaughlin and Mark Anthony McGinley are all key members of the St Michael’s starting 15 and are also members of the Donegal senior squad.

“We did not field because we felt it would have been very unfair on the three boys (Christy Toye, Martin McElhinney and Colm McFadden) who had played the night before in Clones,” said the St Michael’s official.

“We also had Michael Langan, who played with Donegal minors in Clones the day before as well, though we are aware that minors do not count for senior club football.”

McElhinney also insisted that St Michael’s had played their four ‘Star Games’ as they were obliged to under county regulations.

‘Star Games’ are games where teams are paired against other teams with similar numbers of county players.

“The CCC insisted Sunday’s game was not a ‘Star Game’ because the county players were available to us. But that is where we saw it was very unfair and a player welfare issue.

“There was no way we were going to ask the five boys to turn out for a club game 15 hours after playing for the county in a tough Ulster championship game.

“We also had three injured players and another player was not available. This meant we would be without up to nine of our team and as we had played our regulation four ‘Star Games’ we were of the opinion that we should not have been asked to play on Sunday.”

“We are not willing to play any of those remaining games without our county men.

“We will be letting the CCC know that at tomorrow night’s (Thursday) meeting and I’m sure we will not be the only one taking that stand.”

Gaoth Dobhair were another of the clubs that did not fulfil their fixture last weekend, also on a player welfare issue. They were fixed to play Malin in Malin and have three players - Eamon and Neil McGee and Odhran MacNiallais, in Rory Gallagher’s Donegal senior squad. They also have five in the Donegal minor squad.

However, club chairman, Alan Boyd, said that they had no problem playing without their county players as long as they were paired with teams of similar numbers of county players.

“Last weekend’s fixtures list was very unfair not only on Gaoth Dobhair, but on a number of other clubs. And there was no need for it when there was a round of games - round 13 - which would have been fair to everyone and by and large would have been the perfect pairings for all clubs.” Round 13 is the round of games which have been pencilled in for this weekend.

County chairman Sean Dunnion, told the Democrat that it was hoped that tonight’s meeting will set out a programme of club fixtures for the remainder of the season and especially for the time Donegal remain in the All-Ireland championship race.