Saturday 22 October 2016

Longford club hit with €2,000 fine over Jamie Carragher soccer camp

Published 05/02/2016 | 02:30

Jamie Carragher (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Jamie Carragher (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

A Longford club has become the first to be fined over a breach of rules governing the use of their property.

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Dromard GAA club grounds were used to host the Jamie Carragher soccer school last August and the club has been consequently hit with a €2,000 penalty.

The Liverpool legend and popular Sky Sports pundit attended the school itself in Longford on one of the three days in question.

The event, organised by the UCL Harps soccer club from just across the county boundary in Gowna in Co Cavan, was brought to the attention of the GAA's Management Committee who have the authority in cases like this to investigate and propose a penalty if they deem it necessary.

The original fine was thought to be €3,000 but was reduced to €2,000 by the Central Hearings Committee. A statement released yesterday by the GAA said that Dromard had admitted the infraction but the club are understood to be surprised by the outcome.

Rule 5.1 states that "all property including grounds, clubhouses, halls, dressing-rooms and handball alleys owned or controlled by units of the Association shall be used only for the purpose of, or in connection with, the playing of games controlled by the Association".

A soccer camp run by such a high-profile figure taking place on GAA property clearly contravened this rule.

It is believed that this is the first time a unit of the GAA has had a sanction imposed on it for breaking the rule.

Nemo Rangers came under the spotlight when they allowed the Irish rugby team in to train at short notice in their Trabeg complex in January 2010.

But GAA's Management decided to issue them with a caution later that year having accepted that they took the booking in error.

The Nemo case led to a re-affirming of GAA rules on the use of property but a clear understanding developed that clubs needed to generate revenue from the rent of all-weather facilities and that would involve groups playing such games as five-a-side soccer.

But hire to organisations from other sports remained strictly prohibited.

Dromard’s GAA facilities, including a 3G pitch, are among the most impressive in the region.

The club admitted the infraction, as the statement indicated, but felt that there would be some leeway shown to them because of the circumstances of how the event came to take place on their pitch.

Clubs with 3G pitch facilities regularly face hire requests from other sports organisations and some, other than Nemo Rangers, have come under the spotlight when they have obliged.

The rules differ for Croke Park of course since the then Rule 42 was altered in 2005 to allow international rugby and soccer matches to be played in Croke Park during the reconstruction of Lansdowne Road.


That rule change remains in place to this day, giving Central Council the power to decide on the use of Croke Park.

There have been moves to allow the same liberty of use to county grounds.

Clare, through former GAA presidential candidate Noel Walsh’s club Miltown-Malbay, have once again submitted a motion to Congress to that effect. 

The fact that the GAA were happy to release the outcome of a hearing on this matter underlines a willingness to deal with these issues when they arise.

Croke Park’s top brass have  repeatedly stated that the GAA cannot police every ground in the country when this rule is contravened.

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