Saturday 17 February 2018

National cups hope for DDSL teams as resolution plan tabled

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John Fallon

TEAMS from the Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL) have moved slighter closer to participation in this season's Schoolboys FAI (SFAI) national cups.

Crisis talks were called by the FAI for last Friday in an attempt to broker a solution from a dispute that has left 3,000 DDSL players without any national cup games so far this term.

The other seven regions around the country have played their early-round fixtures in the five competitions that cater for age-groups from U-12 to U-16.

The DDSL, however, refused to allocate referees to their section of ties until ongoing issues with the SFAI were addressed to their satisfaction.

With the open draw for the competitions -- where qualifiers from the eight regions converge for the last-32 round -- looming on December 14, the 180 DDSL teams registered in the cups have grown increasingly anxious.

But the biggest league in Ireland has, following that three-and-a-hour meeting hosted by the FAI, this week tabled a resolution plan to the FAI.

Their proposal centres on making the draw for the DDSL region again, using a seeded system this time, before providing the SFAI with four qualifiers for each age-group by February.

It is now up to the FAI board of management to discuss the matter as part of their agenda for a scheduled meeting next Friday.

Should the FAI recommend the proposal for acceptance, it would leave the SFAI with a big decision to make ahead of their own council meeting on December 14.

The SFAI have consistently insisted that no deviation to the normal practice can be granted until it receives ratification from their council that features representatives from all 32 leagues in the country.

Relations between the DDSL and their rival leagues, albeit never too harmonious historically, have deteriorated in recent years to the point that a raft of rule proposals clearly beneficial to all were defeated at the last AGM.

It also remains to be seen whether the DDSL's proposal gets the blessing from their own clubs.

What's certain is the matter arising at next Thursday's scheduled bi-monthly meeting, where views may differ on the plan to revert to a seeded draw. Though the DDSL don't apply seeding to their domestic cups, divisions are clustered into various competitions at each age-group.

While at least suggestions to make progress are now emerging from the DDSL, many obstacles are still to be overcome if teams are to take their place in the national cups.

Irish Independent

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