Wednesday 17 January 2018

GAA club to take on family's cause after boys are ruled out of bounds

Padraic (14) and Colin (9) O'Sullivan from Ballytrasna, Faha, Co Kerry, with parents Michael and Christine and sister Aisling
Padraic (14) and Colin (9) O'Sullivan from Ballytrasna, Faha, Co Kerry, with parents Michael and Christine and sister Aisling

Majella O'Sullivan

A GAA rule preventing two young brothers playing football with a club outside their parish is to be challenged again.

Padraic O'Sullivan (14) and his nine-year-old brother Colin were told they could not play Gaelic games with Listry GAA club near Killarney, Co Kerry, because of the 'parish rule' -- or Rule 20 -- employed by some county boards.

An application by their parents for an exemption to the rule was defeated by Kerry County Board on Monday night by a majority of 59 to 23.

"Football is my favourite sport," Padraic told the Irish Independent yesterday.

"I've been playing it since I was under 10. It's very upsetting when you can't be picked for the team when you train with them all the time."

The O'Sullivans live in Ballytrasna, Faha, within the parish boundaries of Firies, but they attend school and are involved in parish life in Listry.

However, the family was handed a lifeline yesterday with news that Listry GAA may bring a motion before Kerry County Board calling for some townlands to be made "open areas".

That would mean people living in these areas could choose which club they wanted to play with.

Listry GAA club chairman Noel Kennedy confirmed the motion would be on the agenda at the club's next meeting.

"It hasn't been decided yet because obviously it has to come before the club first for discussion but we probably will pursue that route," Mr Kennedy told the Irish Independent.

It is expected the motion will then be moved at the next meeting of Kerry County Board, where it would be voted on.

Meanwhile, Padraic and Colin are coming to terms with the disappointment of having their application refused.

Like most Kerry families, football is king in the O'Sullivan household and the boys dream about playing championship games with the club with which they feel the most affinity. "It's out of our hands now and all we can do is stand back from it and wait," the boys' father Michael O'Sullivan said.

"We could go back to the GAA's disputes resolution authority (DRA) but there'd be no point. We've been there before."

However, he said the family had no regrets about taking the stand, adding that eight families were involved and all of them had put both energy and money into the challenge.

"We're glad we did it. This is something we need people to talk about and there's never been a proper discussion about the 'parish rule' before," he said.

"We're not against Rule 20. We know why it's there. It just needs to be tweaked a bit."

The boys' mother Christine added: "We've done our best and we're hoping for a bit of common sense. That's all it takes. It's not just our kids. A lot of other children are affected by this rule."

The O'Sullivans have been fighting their cause for five years and admit it has taken its toll on the two boys and their sister Aisling (11). The matter has come before the High Court on two occasions and has also been referred to the DRA twice.

Mrs O'Sullivan said it had been a stressful journey for the family but one they had to take for their children's sake.

Irish Independent

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