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Director General Tom Ryan defends GAA handling of club final controversy


GAA Director General Tom Ryan. Image: Sportsfile.

GAA Director General Tom Ryan. Image: Sportsfile.

GAA Director General Tom Ryan. Image: Sportsfile.

GAA Director-General Tom Ryan has said the process for dealing with the issue of the 16th man at the end of the All-Ireland senior club final could not change just because of the status of the game.

Speaking at the launch of the report to Congress later this month, Ryan said the mechanism had to be the same as any other game, whereby the unit, in this case Glen, lodged an objection to the result of the game - which Kilmacud Crokes won - on the basis that Crokes had 16 players on the field during the last passage of play.

Under rule, the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee had the option to launch an inquiry with the powers available to them under rule 6.44 b (i) but felt the of risk setting a precedent on that front that it was keen to avoid.

Ryan thinks this was the proper course of action and that an exception could not be made for an All-Ireland final.

"To my mind if you are playing junior D football in West Kerry or you’re an All Star hurler in North Antrim, it’s the same disciplinary system," said Ryan.

“People are entitled to have the same right of reply to it, irrespective of how good you are or what level you are playing at, or if it’s club or county.

“Also, that competition started out with a normal disciplinary regime attached to it in the first round of the various county championships across the country.

“It’s appropriate that the same regime would apply at the pinnacle of it as well. I wouldn’t be in favour of a two tier, or a multiple tier disciplinary system based on how good players are.”

Ryan defended GAA silence on the matter, even with regard to the mechanism around which the process followed, and suggested media explanations had been clearcut in setting out the how and why of it.

“The worst thing we could possibly do and I have seen this mentioned in dispatches, this idea that the GAA should step in, and there is a kind of deficit there and the GAA should step in and intervene.

“I have never, ever picked up the phone to the chair or anybody in the CCCC to say 'Derek (Kent CCCC chairman) this is the way I want this to go.' I have never done that. I will never do that.

“Any suggestion, implied or explicit, that we should have been directing something, that’s completely wrong.

“To the extent that people don’t get that, that’s okay, it’s a pity, but certainly I don’t think it would have added to things certainly much if we came out and reinforced the message that you (media) had already communicated very well in terms of how the thing has to play out.

"The safest thing that we could do is abide by a process that works. We should be really careful not to obviously intervene, but not to undermine that process either.”

Kilmacud Crokes are expected to lodge notice of appeal to the CCCC decision earlier this week to order a replay of the game.

GAA president, Larry McCarthy, speaking at the same launch, was more guarded, declining to add comment because a process was in place but he did suggest that changes to the way substitutes enter and leave the field of play could be up for discussion.

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