The sport of GAA never fails to keep us interested especially when controversy rears its head. I suppose this can be said of any sport but when it comes to the GAA and especially local GAA it is all that more absorbing.
The GAA have ruled that the Ulster Hearings’ Committee was incorrect in not hearing Naomh Conaill’s appeal contesting their semi-final loss to Glenswilly. The Glenties club claimed that Glenswilly’s Ciaran Bonner should have been dismissed after he was both yellow and black-carded during the course of the match, which Glenswilly won 0-10 to 0-8 in Letterkenny. Bonner’s replacement scored a decisive point in the match and the GAA have now ordered the Ulster Hearings’ Committee to listen to the Naomh Conaill appeal. “The CAC decided that the Ulster Hearings’ Committee was incorrect in ruling out of order an appeal by Naomh Conaill against a decision of Donegal CCC relating to the Donegal SFC semi-final played on 26 October,” the GAA said in a statement.
“As a consequence, the appeal should now be heard by the Ulster Hearings Committee.”
So what does all of this mean? We may have to revisit the Glenswilly and Glenties game. A replay would be required. If Glenties were to beat Glenswilly, they then would have to play St. Eunan’s in the final. It is now up to the Naomh Conaill club if they want to pursue this issue. Common sense will probably prevail at this stage. It would be unfair on the Letterkenny club since they had no part or action in the said affair.
The problem is time related. Donegal needed to produce county champions that could play in the Ulster pre-arranged club championship. The dates are set in stone. Nobody, least of all the Glenties club, want to see St. Eunan’s denied a chance to win an Ulster title which is very much within their grasp. If there was an error committed then it was with the referee way back when Glenswilly and Glenties met. GAA headquarters has already ruled that the Ulster Hearings’ Committee erred in not dealing with the Glenties appeal. Obviously this issue was dealt with initially by the Donegal CCC. The issue will eventually land back to the Donegal CCC.
My reading of the situation is that Naomh Conaill wanted justification for the appeal. Perhaps now that the Ulster Hearings’ Council has been overruled thus vindicating the position of the Glenties club, the matter may not be pursued any further.
The reality of the situation is that St. Eunan’s find themselves in a great position in the Ulster club championship. Nobody of upright GAA principles would argue against the Letterkenny club doing their best for their club and ultimately their county. Naomh Conaill feel that they were illegitimately beaten by Glenswilly. This, by the way, is not the fault of the Glenswilly team. They played to the rules and played to the rules as set down by the officials on that given day. Errors need to be acknowledged by the erring bodies.
From here on it is important that every club get behind our county representatives St. Eunan’s for the remainder of the Ulster Club championship and beyond.
Pride of place this week must surely go to Cloughaneely from Falcarragh. They beat Buncrana last Saturday in the Donegal Intermediate final after extra-time and beat Casteldawson in the Intermediate Ulster club championship the very next day. This game also had to go to extra-time. Cloughaneely have to be commended and applauded for their tremendous achievement. One has to remember that once a club wins their respective county championship, that team progresses to Ulster where they become our representatives. Club football is fierce in the Oakleaf County and to win any game there is an achievement in itself. Donegal football is in a great place considering that we have St. Eunan’s, Cloughaneely and not forgetting Urris in their respective Ulster Senior, Intermediate and Junior semi-finals. At this stage, anything can happen. It would be unprecedented for any county to have its clubs contesting all three grades in their respective provincial club finals. Urris and Cloughaneely play their ties in Dungannon while St. Eunan’s travel to Celtic Park for their game. Cloughanelly will play Down champions Warrenpoint and Urris take on Keady Michael Dwyer’s from Armagh.
Most interest will obviously be centred on St. Eunan’s match against Tyrone champions St. Enda’s of Omagh. This should prove a riveting contest. St.E nda’s knocked out one of the hot favourites Crossmaglen in their last game. I watched this game live on TG4. Had Crossmaglen not had two players sent off at critical periods in this game I do not believe that the Omagh team was have won this contest. St. Enda’s laboured for long periods and I feel that St. Eunan’s should have too much for them.
This is new territory for both teams. St. Enda’s, too, were fortunate to beat Carrickmore in the Tyrone county final so they will have their doubts about taking on Donegal kingpins St. Eunan’s. Let’s hope that come Sunday evening we will have all of our representatives through to their respective finals. Sunday will be a big day for all GAA fans in the county. So in the meantime, keep the faith!