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Facilities for GAA use only: Cooney

AS another GAA club comes under investigation for a breach of regulation with regard to Rule 42, association president Christy Cooney has defended the maxim that bars the use of GAA facilities by other sporting bodies.

Wexford club Faythe Harriers are under the microscope after allegations were made that their facilities were being used for non-GAA purposes, with the Official Guide stating that all GAA property "shall be used only for the purpose of or in connection with the playing of the games controlled by the Association."

Although this rule could be preventing clubs from earning some much-needed income, an animated Cooney denied it was outdated at the draws for the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups in UCD yesterday.

"I don't (believe the rule is outdated), no. Absolutely no," he said. "We have invested money in our club grounds for the use solely of Gaelic games and they are vested in the association to do that.

"Other sports have their own grounds and it is their responsibility to use those grounds. We're not here to provide grounds for other sports. We made an exception for the use of Croke Park and everyone knows the reason behind that.

"We have hurling, football, camogie, ladies football, handball and rounders. We face the challenge of having facilities available for our clubs at various times, so we have no responsibilities to provide grounds for other sports."

After the Ireland rugby team used Nemo Rangers' facilities, Cooney stated all units had been reminded about their responsibilities in this regard and dismissed the notion that Central Council might bring a motion to Congress to change Rule 42.

Cooney has long been an opponent of any change in this area and his stance against opening Croke Park damaged his bid to become president in 2005, when Kilkenny's Nickey Brennan won out.

As it stands, Central Council retain the power to open Croke Park for other sporting events when they see fit, but those powers do not extend past the Jones' Road venue.

"When we raise funds for our clubs, people are well aware what it's used for. When we give grants to our clubs for club developments they are well aware of exactly what's there. If there was any doubt, there wouldn't have been the same level of discussion we had about Croke Park.

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"Congress made it abundantly clear at the time that the only exception was Croke Park and no other facilities. Club grounds were not to be touched under any circumstances.

"That's what the Association has decided upon and all we're doing is adhering to that and ensuring that it's in place."

The official guide states that a club found guilty of breaching Rule 42 could "be subject to automatic suspension," but it does not give a clear indication as to the duration of this ban.

"There is a rule in the book as to what can be done and the rule is very clear.

"We have to deal with every situation on its merits," stated Cooney.

"We will await the explanation that comes from Faythe Harriers through the Wexford board and Leinster Council. Then we will do what's appropriate, but I am not going to prejudge the situation.

"There may be no facts in it -- it may be true or it may not be true, so I am not going to jump a fence until I know exactly what the situation is."

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