“JIM McGuinness is entitled to come in here and ask (for fixtures to be postponed) but the Co. Board have to take responsibility.”
Those were the words of Dr Austin O’Kennedy during the discussion on the report of the fixtures committee in the county, the Competitions Control Committee (CCC) which generated the most debate at the GAA annual Convention in the Abbey Hotel, Donegal Town, yesterday.
The Donegal Town based General Practitioner has a long association with the Four Masters club and was the medical officer for the Donegal senior team for around 20 years.
Dr. O’Kennedy was responding to the report of the CCC and the controversy surrounding the fact that his club, Four Masters were forced to play five games in less than three weeks because the championship had been postponed due to Donegal’s success.
He has been vocal in airing the player welfare issue surrounding the fact that his club were forced to play so many games in a short period.
“I would urge everyone to read Eugene McGee’s report which came out last week,” said Dr. O’Kennedy.
Damian Dowds of Burt said there was deep displeasure and anger in his club because they were forced to play an Intermediate football championship match on Saturday 6th October and then play an Ulster hurling championship game on Sunday, 7th October.
Liam McElhinney from St. Michaels questioned why his club were thrown out of the U-21 championship last year for not fielding while this year, Kilcar were not thrown out for a similar offence.
Pat Connaghan, chairman of the CCC, said that they had applied common sense in the matter. One of the Kilcar players, Patrick McBrearty, was asked not to play by the Co. manager. He had played against Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final and then an U-21 match on Tuesday and was being asked to play again the following Sunday.
Alan Boyd of Gaoth Dobhair felt his club had suffered big time at the hands of the CCC and that regulations had not been adhered to.
“Some clubs got away with not fielding. Luckily we survived today, but we are not happy with the way we were treated,” he said.
Enda Bonner of Dungloe also felt his club suffered. He said he had stood up in front of Jim McGuinness at Co. Committee and said they would play without county players.
“I don’t see why one weekend can’t be left free before the championship, but not three weekends,” said Bonner, who added that he did not agree with the ‘star’ fixtures
The League fixtures should be made and played and there should be one weekend left free before county championship games.
“Neil Gallagher couldn’t play in the Ulster final but it was because of a freak accident,” said Enda, who said the place to decide the issue was at the February meeting where the regulations are put in place.
“We have to treat the least player at a club the same way as we play the best player,” said Enda.