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Fennell relief after 'last chance saloon' offers fresh start

DUBLIN footballer Eamon Fennell has admitted that Tuesday night's appeal was the "last chance saloon" for his bid to push through a transfer from O'Tooles to St Vincent's.

After a dispute that lasted four years and kept the 26-year-old out of club football for 28 months, he was finally granted a move to St Vincent's by Dublin's clubs, despite a recommendation from the county's management committee to reject the transfer.

"Relief is the overwhelming feeling," he said. "It was longer than anyone should have to sit out playing the game they love so I'm just happy it's over with now. That was the last chance saloon, I had no idea what the next step would be had it fallen through again," he said.

Fennell's impassioned plea to the club delegates at the meeting seems to have swung the long-running saga in his favour.

"I told the delegates that I had no problem answering any of their questions. But they knew my reasons so there was no point in harping on to them about it. I think people just wanted it resolved.

"I got some good advice from some good people."

GAA president Christy Cooney admitted recently that it might be time for Croke Park to get involved in the dispute and with O'Tooles unlikely to appeal to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA), according to Dublin chairman Andy Kettle, it seems the issue has finally been put to bed.

Fennell hasn't played with O'Tooles in three years and in that period sought transfers to St Oliver Plunketts and Ballymun Kickhams before applying to join neighbouring St Vincent's for three years running.

He sat out all of Dublin's 2009 campaign, due to the dispute, and his attempt to join the Marino club rejected twice last year.

On one occasion, the then Dublin County Board chairman Gerry Harrington denied Fennell a transfer with his casting vote after the clubs were split down the middle. After the DRA sent the case back to Dublin, a second vote saw the proposed move heavily defeated.

Fennell won't return to the pitch for another four weeks, but should be available for St Vincent's county championship opener, which is expected to be fixed for mid-April.

"I have another month before I'm allowed back on the pitch but I hope to get in one or two club games before going back to full training with Dublin," he said.

O'Tooles could not be contacted for comment.

Irish Independent