Exclusive: €5,000 fines for Fenway brawlers
The ugly scenes which marred the Fenway Classic in Boston last weekend have resulted in fines of €5,000 being handed down to both the Dublin and Galway's county boards, the Irish Independent understands.
With nearly 30,000 spectators present at the home of the Boston Red Sox, the Super 11s hurling exhibition descended into a brawl, which forced the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) to take stern action against both counties.
Iarla Tannian and Andy Smith were sin-binned for the Tribesmen while Dublin goalkeeper Conor Dooley received a yellow card after the flashpoint, which sparked a huge social media storm.
As referee Alan Kelly took immediate action with the trio, they cannot face any further action, but it is not yet apparent whether other players will be hit with a one-match ban if they are cited.
A jubilant Galway side eventually prevailed 50-47, but both sides will now incur a hefty financial loss while this latest fine comes just months after Dublin earlier forked out €6,500 for their part in a football challenge game brawl with Armagh.
Dublin assistant secretary Jim Roche said of the punishment: "I'm surprised at action being taken. It was an exhibition match. I was watching the game on TG4 and it was nothing more than handbags."
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Meanwhile, the GAA has ruled out any restructuring of the All-Ireland SFC that interferes with the provincial series or features proposals for the introduction of a Champions League-style or round-robin formats.
That includes the elaborate GPA proposal, which is based on a group qualification system, comprising eight sets of four counties, with each team in the group playing each other.
Some counties also submitted proposals, with variations on the GPA theme. However, in an interview with the Irish Independent, GAA president Aogán ó Fearghail stated categorically that no format which proposes an increase in games will be considered.
"We don't want any more games at inter-county level so we're not going to move to a championship system that does that," he said.
"A few of the proposals included round-robin or group stages but Central Council has decided that it won't happen.
"The decision is based on a simple philosophy - don't squeeze the clubs any more. We intend to give them more time to play games, not less."
Proposals for new championship formats are currently being considered and ó Fearghail said that it has already been decided that there would be no change to the provincial system.
"Let's put that to bed - the provincial championships stay as they are because that's what the counties want. After that, we can look at ways of tweaking the system, provided it doesn't add games," he said.
He said he would like to see a secondary competition for Division 4 counties beaten in the provinces. Instead of entering the qualifiers, they would play off in knockout competition, with the final played before a big game in Croke Park, possibly as a curtain-raiser to the All-Ireland final.
"I stress that this is only a personal opinion. We could find that counties don't want to change from the current system.
"We've asked CCCC to come up with the best proposals for Central Council and then decide which ones, if any, go before Congress," he said.
ó Fearghail is also urging counties to back a recently-published plan aimed at eradicating burnout and improving the lot of club players.
"This is about shifting the balance, unashamedly and unapologetically, in favour of our clubs," he said.
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