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Wicklow GAA revoke Bray Emmets’ permission to play in Dublin over fixtures row


Bray Emmets' base is an hour and 20 minutes' drive from Coolkenno

Bray Emmets' base is an hour and 20 minutes' drive from Coolkenno

Bray Emmets' base is an hour and 20 minutes' drive from Coolkenno

Bray Emmets have had their permission to field a senior hurling team in Dublin revoked by the Wicklow County Board after failing to fulfil a football league fixture in the county last weekend.

The move has escalated tensions between the club and the board with Bray chairman Paul Cunningham describing the penalty as “disproportionate” to their failure to play the game.

For the last six years, to help promote hurling in the town, Wicklow have given permission to Bray to compete in the Dublin leagues while also fulfilling their obligations in Wicklow.

It has driven standards higher and, according to Cunningham, helped Wicklow hurling as a consequence.

Bray underage football, hurling, ladies football and camogie teams also compete in Dublin leagues.

Bray didn’t fulfil their first round football league fixture against Coolkenno in the south west of the county last Sunday morning on the basis that they had players involved in county teams, some were doing Leaving Cert and others were restricting their movements due to Covid.

To get their team to a venue over 80km awayin a ‘safe’ manner, observing Covid guidelines of travelling in separate cars, Cunningham says would have put demands on some young players to get their parents to make a journey that is an hour and 20 minutes away.

“We sought a postponement, we just couldn’t fulfil the fixture safely. The ask was of its time and the consequences of what we are going through at the moment. Many counties are organising themselves geographically,” Cunningham said. “It’s 81 kilometres away, one hour 20 minutes. Where is the common sense?” he asked.

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But Wicklow’s Competition Controls Committee, which awarded the game to Coolkenno, imposed a €200 fine and docked Bray a further two points in addition to ending their participation in Dublin, has defended its decision stating that “any permission granted by Wicklow CCC for a Wicklow club to take part in an outside county league or competition is always given on the clear understanding/condition that the said club would fulfil all of their fixtures in Wicklow.

“The CCC spent considerable time planning and putting a fixture structure in place for the year that it is to try and maximise games for football and hurling within the county. This involved no promotion or relegation in the leagues and a new format for running off the championships. Clubs are not permitted to pick and choose what fixtures they participate in. All clubs, no matter their size or location, must be treated with the basic respect of a club turning out for a game.”

Wicklow CCC said Bray were made aware of the consequences when their request for a postponement was turned down. Emmets are not unique in competing in a different county from where they are registered. Carlow clubs play in Kilkenny leagues as a way of improving standards. Kildare’s Naas have also competed in Kilkenny at underage level.

“We benefit greatly from Dublin (competition) and the county benefits too,” said Cunningham. “That’s the reason we have 13 players on county teams because we play at a particular level in Dublin.

Bray, Wicklow senior champions for the last two years, have gone from Division 8 in Dublin to Division 4 and were due to start their Dublin campaign this weekend.

“There was no conflict, this was a football match (they didn’t play) and our hurlers are being punished,” he added.

Cunningham fears that ultimately their ejection from Dublin – Dublin County Board has been informed of the development by Wicklow – will damage Wicklow hurling.

“Leinster and Dublin have been very good with us. We’re not trying to wash our laundry in public, we’re just very frustrated by this. They’re (Wicklow) trying to hit us where it hurts and it’s disproportionate to the events of failing to turn up on a Sunday morning,” he said.

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