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Charity loses out after GAA refuses to support match

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Ciaran McDonald. (Pic: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE)

Ciaran McDonald. (Pic: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE)

Ciaran McDonald. (Pic: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE)

The GAA has been blamed after a charity football match due to take place today was cancelled at the 11th hour.

A host of former inter-county stars, including organ donation campaigner Joe Brolly, had committed to take part in the match, which was due to take place in Knockmore GAA club in Co Mayo.

The same event reportedly raised €20,000 for cystic fibrosis this time last year and the proceeds of this year's match were due to go to Hope House, a residential rehabilitation facility in Foxford, Co Mayo.

Organisers claimed the GAA withdrew permission for it and it was cancelled on Thursday.

However, the association stated it had not sanctioned the event and that "despite this fixture being planned for six months the first notification received by the association, at central level, was one week ago".

A GAA spokesman said its public liability and player injury scheme did not extend to cover the charity match.

"The event was being organised for the benefit of a third-party charity that was assuming no risk and despite assurances that other bodies were willing to provide cover for the event, evidence of same was never provided.

"The GAA, along with its units, invests significant amounts on an annual basis to cover those involved as players and spectators in our core activities," said a spokesman.

A spokesman said it regretted the inconvenience, but "public liability and player injury cover" should have been planned at an early stage.

Eddie McHale, one of the chief organisers, claimed that the GAA had originally sanctioned the match, a process that would automatically have provided public liability insurance for it. He said they had got the players involved to sign a waiver form because they were not covered personally. Mr McHale said he was contacted by the GAA last week saying that, having viewed the Facebook page for it, they would not indemnify it.

He said several other bodies had come forward since offering to pay the insurance but, without GAA permission, the club decided not to run it. "We are genuine GAA people and would not want to rock the boat, but we can't understand why they pulled the plug so close to the event," said Mr McHale.

A similar game, at the same venue, attracted a crowd of 4,000 people last year and 60 people had volunteered to help run it this time.

"We had food organised for 200 and a sponsor who got two sets of jerseys made especially for it," said Mr McHale. "It is very disappointing for all concerned."

A host of former Mayo greats, including Ciaran McDonald, Willie Joe Padden and Kevin O'Neill had agreed to line out, as had Brolly, Armagh's Oisin McConville, Tyrone's Owen Mulligan, Galway's Ja Fallon and Michael Donnellan, Donegal's Martin McHugh and Roscommon's Shane Curran and Frankie Dolan among others.

Irish Independent