Monday 23 October 2017

'I've served my penance. Two years without playing club football is enough'

Fennell weighing up O'Toole's return after transfer talks

Dublin midfielder Eamon Fennell has waged a long battle to transfer
from his club O'Tooles. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile
Dublin midfielder Eamon Fennell has waged a long battle to transfer from his club O'Tooles. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Eamon Fennell has had his most "civilised" meeting with his club O'Toole's, who have continued to oppose his transfer to a host of other northside clubs over the last four years.

The Dublin midfielder is back in talks with the club who he has not played with for over two years now as he continues to demand a transfer to St Vincent's.

Fennell has become the cause celebre of club transfers, with his case shining a light on the tight constraints which can govern movement within certain counties.

The 24-year-old, who made an impression for Dublin in the early stages of last year's league before his impact receded, admitted yesterday that his case was not dead in the water after a Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) hearing put the issue back with the Dublin County Board earlier this year.

Fennell has played the natural justice card in his desire to move to what he feels is a more football-orientated club in St Vincent's, but knows that the options available to him are narrowing.


He revealed that a number of clubs from outside Dublin have been in touch, offering him the chance to play club football if he was prepared to move away from the capital. And he is also weighing up the possibility of a legal challenge to the impasse.

But going back to O'Toole's "with my tail between my legs" is an option he can't rule out either; in fact it could be one of his "best options", he admitted yesterday.

Fennell has twice tried to move to Vincent's and in previous years has attempted to join St Oliver Plunkett's and Ballymun Kickams. But now he is back in negotiations with his home club.

"I met with O'Toole's two weeks ago and the outcome was that I have to go off and think abut what they said," revealed Fennell, who was speaking at the launch of a Dublin team fund-raiser in conjunction with Temple Street Children's University Hospital.

"They said the same thing -- that they want to have me back in time for the play-offs because they are in the promotion play-off final now.

"I have to sit down with the legal side and see if there are other avenues we can go down.

"It is not looking too good at the moment but I will have my verdict to them soon enough."

Whether Fennell can continue to play with Dublin while failing to turn out for his club remains to be seen. O'Toole's said they would not stand in the way of his 2010 ambitions but beyond that there is doubt that such a waiver will continue to exist if there is no resolution.

Fennell has avoided playing for O'Toole's because of injury and he is due into the sports clinic in Santry at the end of the month for surgery to repair a chipped bone and torn cartilage on the hip. That will rule him out of action for up to nine weeks, incorporating the O'Byrne Cup and first round of the NFL.

"They didn't say anything really about that (waiver). I was talking to them about 2009 when they got me suspended for a year. That was torture and I don't know how they expect me to go back and play for them again.

"But in fairness it was the most civilised meeting I have had with them, a bit more relaxed."

Fennell has sternly challenged the fundamentals involved in him being prevented from moving to a club of his choice after such a protracted spell.

"I think I have served my penance. Two years without playing club football is surely enough. To be taking years off my inter-county career as well is unbelievable, to think people can control and have power over you.

"I made my debut at 23 so seven or eight years is a maximum inter-county career. People want to just chop years off that."

He is sure that his absence from club football at the highest level in the county is diminishing his game.

"It is not good for your game. Everyone knows match fitness is the best fitness you can get. I think my injuries have stemmed from trying to do too much away from Dublin, like extra weights and that sort of stuff."

Fennell also admitted that hindsight has altered his perspective on the saga.

"If I had known the rigmarole was going to be like this, I would have thought about it a lot more than I did," he said. "I am four years trying to get out of a club -- it's a bit crazy to think that has happened. I am not sure what is going to happen now.

"It could be next year, it could be five years or six years. I think that the rules have to change. I remember when the rule was in place that if you sat out for 12 months, you were allowed a transfer.

"Then they changed that when I was 11 months into that transfer, which I think is crazy again. There have just been so many things about this transfer that have gone against me that I don't really see the end."

Interest from clubs in other counties has been strong.

"There were a few weeks where I had phone calls from clubs all over Ireland. My dad being from Waterford, that was another option for me to go down and play club football down there. I don't know. You have to live there and I'm back in college now (studying in DCU).

"I don't know what I'm going to do. It is an option in that regard. I don't see why I should have to."

  • The Dublin squad will host a 'Reeling in the Years' 1980s night in 'Dandelion' on St Stephen's Green on Thursday night. Tickets are €20 and are available from any squad member.

Irish Independent

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