Sunday 18 February 2018

€5,000 fine and suspensions after ugly scenes in Longford

THE ENDING of the inter-county football season has become Wexford's worst nightmare with the recommendation from Croke Park that a €5,000 fine be imposed on the county by the G.A.A's Central Competitions Control Committee.

Given the financial debacle that current Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux, assumed on taking office more than 18 months ago, the findings following the Pearse Park fracas have really hurt as the county is just about to turn their finances around.

There was an ugly scene at the end of normal time in the All-Ireland Senior football championship qualifier involving Wexford and Longford at the midlands venue which led to an investigation by officials in headquarters.

As a result of this investigation both Wexford and Longford have been hit with €5,000 fines, while centre-back David Murphy has had a one-match suspension recommended, with team trainer Jason Moran faced with an eight-week ban.

Wexford Secretary, Margaret Doyle, said yesterday (Monday) that they would be seeking a hearing in relation to the €5,000 fine along with the one-match ban recommended for David Murphy.

Longford Secretary, Peter O'Reilly, confirmed that Michael Quinn, who was a substitute on the day, has been recommended for a one-match ban, while two mentors, Dave Hare and James Murray, have also been hit with eight-week bans.

He said they would be asking for a hearing in relation to the fine only but would not be seeking a hearing relating to the bans.

It was an ugly incident that was highlighted in the national media and on TV, as players and officials became embroiled on the pitch after referee Pádraig O'Sullivan blew for full-time, with extra time to follow.

Such are the financial difficulties facing counties, Wexford included, that the imposition of this hefty fine has sent shockwaves through the management committee as they continue to struggle with the financial position which the G.A.A. in the county found itself in following the election of Devereux as Chairman.

Given the difficulties in running a largely amateur organisation operating in a professional arena, being mainly reliant on gate receipts and sponsorship, the decision of the G.A.A's Central Competitions Control Committee to recommend such a hefty fine on cash-strapped counties comes as a major surprise.

This is a fine that is hard to take, with Wexford adamant they will be appealing its severity. Of course, nothing is guaranteed on appeal but Wexford will be hoping that the fine will be considerably reduced given the county's fine record over the years.

The Hearings Committee are known to overturn recommendations, with Cork's Pat Horgan being the most recent high-profile player to have had a games ban lifted, so both Wexford and Longford will be hoping that their impeccable record in numerous games between the counties over the past 18 months will go some way towards having such a huge fine considerably reduced.

New Ross Standard

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