Clubs left in lurch after GAA announce suspension

A NUMBER of clubs could see their promotion hopes pulled out from beneath them due to county byelaws, while others will have to wait until the 2021 season to discover their fate.

11 weeks of a 13-week club window had been completed before the GAA called a halt to all club fixtures on Tuesday, and a number of clubs and counties have been particularly inconvenienced by the decision.

There are real concerns that the Tyrone club Kildress won’t be awarded promotion to Division Two, – as would normally be their right as newly crowned Junior Champions – as a result of a Tyrone Competitions Control Committee regulation stipulating “there will be no promotion for the championship winners in the event the leagues haven’t been completed.”

Kildress claimed the Pat Darcy Cup on Sunday with a 3-9 to 1-8 victory over Drumragh, and it’s now up to the Tyrone CCC to clarify whether they can progress to Division Two even if Division Three remains unfinished.

All isn’t lost however, as a separate regulation says that championship winners “will be promoted”, and Kildress will have undoubtedly noted that there’s a further, all-encompassing, provision that reads “In the event of a dispute over the interpretation of the rules of the competition the decision of Coiste Bainisti (i.e. the County Board) will be final.”

Tyrone Public Relations Officer Eugene McConnell hopes that a “fair” outcome will be reached, and also hopes that all outstanding fixtures will be concluded in the calendar year.

He said: “I don’t know whether it’s been raised with the CCC, but I would say that the league in its present format does have to conclude and I’d assume that the they will do their best to finish outstanding games.

It’d be unfair for me to comment on something I’m sure the CCC are looking into, but I’m sure they’ll want to get the right and correct decision that’ll show that everyone is being treated equally.”

The pause button has also been pressed on a number of other outstanding fixtures within the county, including the Tyrone Minor Championship final – which had already been postponed – and a series of other underage and reserve matches. McConnell says we shouldn’t assume they’ll never be played.

There’s always hope and if there’s a window of opportunity between now and the end of the season I’m sure it would permit those other competitions to be concluded.

We’re almost there, we’ve got this far and hopefully the people at headquarters will ensure there’s a favourable outcome to all competitions before the end of the season.”

Meanwhile, Armagh GAA have confirmed that their promotion and relegation situation will be resolved – but not until 2021.

In the Orchard county, the Intermediate and Junior champions move up a grade while another team from each moves up through the league. There is also promotion and relegation between the various divisions.

At a county management meeting on Tuesday night, it was decided that all adult and underage fixtures were postponed for the rest of the year, but would be played before the start of the 2021 campaign. All underage championship fixtures are also going to be played next year.

Elsewhere, the Fermanagh County Board have announced an immediate suspension until further notice of all training and games in the county as a result of a spike in Covid-19 cases in the county.

A number of members of the Fermanagh Senior County panel have returned positive tests for the virus, and they said they’re following advice from the Public Health Agency on the matter.

However, they’ve also determined that the Junior Championship final between Coa and Derrylin will now be played as early as possible in 2021 to allow the winner to participate in next year’s Intermediate Championship.

In Antrim, the county board has made the call to cease all outstanding club fixtures at all levels for 2020, which has caused disappointment as there are outstanding underage competitions left unfinished along with junior and intermediate adult hurling championships.

Meanwhile, The Club Players’ Association released a statement yesterday (Wednesday) calling for the GAA to row back on its decision and to conclude “all outstanding adult championship matches behind closed doors.”

CPA chairman Michael Briody said: “We have been contacted by a lot of clubs over the last 48 hours who have been distressed and disappointed that their season has been brought to an abrupt and unsatisfactory end” but also defended the GAA from criticism received for breaches of Covid-19 regulations from supporters, stating that people need to take responsibility for their own actions.

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