Wednesday 21 August 2019

GAA chief John Horan says club grounds won't open to other sports because of social media pressure

John Horan
John Horan

Harry Clarke

GAA President John Horan says the association won't bend the rules and open up club grounds to other sports to appease people on social media.

A former GAA football player and coach who is battling motor neurone disease has hit out at the controversy over the possible eight-week suspension of his local club for 'hosting' a fundraising football match in his honour.

The club, from Newtowncunningham in Donegal, were suspended after holding an "unauthorised tournament" and were also handed a fine of €500 for breaching the rule, having reportedly been denied permission for the event.

The fundraiser was organised to help Paul Dillon, who played and coach with the club and was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease recently.

Fighting illness: Paul Dillon, his baby daughter Daisy, wife Emma, daughter Lilly and daughter Heidi at her communion
Fighting illness: Paul Dillon, his baby daughter Daisy, wife Emma, daughter Lilly and daughter Heidi at her communion

Following the controversy that surrounded the Liam Miller fundraiser in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last summer, the GAA voted in February to open all county grounds to other sports at the discretion of Central Council.

But, speaking to the Sun, Horan says that club grounds will not be permitted to host non-GAA games.

"I think it would be a very sad day that an organisation of our quality and standing would be constantly flip-flopping just because people get an opinion on social media.

"A large number of these people are not even members of our organisation. They are entitled to have their opinion, they are entitled to put it up on social media.

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"But that's not what is coming through from the membership of our organisation where we have meetings and behave in a democratic manner."

Horan added that county boards will not be empowered to allow requests from clubs to host non-GAA games under any circumstances.

"No," he said.

"If you go back to Congress, and everyone talked about a very quiet Congress, but nobody alluded to the fact that a 90 per cent vote carried that opening of association property at county board level — we're not going to extend it.

"That result was as strong as it was because an assurance was given it wouldn't extend down to clubs. And it won't extend down to clubs.

"This isn't about being careless, this isn't about being dictatorial, this is just giving good, strong leadership. No, it's not going to extend."

Last week, Paul Dillon said the furore was ridiculous and "overshadows" the good intentions of the community.

"I think it's so sad. They were just trying to raise a few pounds," he said.

But he said he was overwhelmed by the generosity of people from the village of 1,500, who came together to support him and his family.

"It's unbelievable for the size of our village. I'm just grateful, I couldn't thank them enough," he said.

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