Thursday 19 September 2019

Laois punished for doing the right thing - Sugrue

Laois football manager John Sugrue. Photo: Sportsfile
Laois football manager John Sugrue. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Laois football manager John Sugrue has delivered a withering criticism of the GAA's enforcement of rule 6.22 (b) that bans inter-county teams from holding training camps at certain times of the year.

Laois will have to play one of their 2019 Division 3 league games at a neutral venue after they failed to overturn the proposed penalty at a hearing on Monday night.

Laois went to Cahirciveen earlier this year, 13 days before their opening championship game against Wexford on May 12.

That was just three days outside the permitted time, according to the rule which clears camps to take place if they are within 10 days of a championship match.

In contrast, Wexford were able to convince the same hearings panel that their trip to Portugal at the end of April was for leisure purposes.

Sugrue, in a letter to the 'Laois Today' website, which he states is written in a private capacity, points to "serious questionable stories" being told by counties to avoid sanction.

He said Laois have accepted their penalty, don't deny what they did and did it in the knowledge that they could get punished.

But he has hit out at the culture of evasion that allowed up to 14 other counties avoid sanction for breaching the same rule and makes a number of valid points to support his case.

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Only four counties out of the original 17 were sanctioned and three, Wexford, Laois and Waterford, have challenged it.

The investigating committee have suggested that the rule should be "reviewed to assess if it meets with the objectives when it was introduced and if it should be revised".

Sugrue feels Laois are suffering for being honest.

"I feel that the situation where one county does the right thing and stands up for what it has done and takes the consequences is suffering far more than the county who cowers behind mistruths and gets off with any sanctions," he told 'Laois Today'.

"It's disappointing in this day and age that we find ourselves in a situation like this where rules that are brought in are not enacted with a gravity of leadership that shows we are intent on doing things better within our association.

"The other counties have not held up an appropriate level of moral standing in the field of sport, yet I believe that they are not overly responsible for this, rather they have been ushered this way with our rules and rule enforcement that encourage flouting.

"One rule for all means all should take the consequences for breaking that rule or else the rule is deemed ineffective and don't enforce it at all in its current guise."

His words are unlikely to be disputed by those who were behind the rule in the first place.

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