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Schoolboy clubs suffer vote blow after SFAI ruling


Photo: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

Photo: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

Photo: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

Schoolboy clubs will no longer be able to vote on national rules governing their sector following a decision taken at Saturday's annual general meeting of the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI).

The alteration to Rule 6 (c) proposed by the Wicklow Schoolboys League reads: "At the AGM, the voting power shall be vested in the officers, executive committee and council members only."

In effect, the rule change means that clubs can continue to attend, but not influence any changes made at an AGM. The old rule entitled every team in the country to a vote apiece.

While the new proposal attracted much debate during the summit at the Westport County Hotel, attended by only 84 delegates, it ultimately gained the two-thirds majority necessary for its introduction.

Requests for a recount made by some delegates, due to just one vote settling the outcome of a ballot that resulted 54-25 in favour, were rejected by the top table featuring the SFAI's executive committee.

That was one of several rule changes that consumed most of the two-hour meeting. Among the others to succeed was conferring upon the SFAI the ability to sanction legislators for public comments that are critical of the association. Two to fail, however, were an overhaul of how the SFAI council is configured as well as a move to only allow a Special General Meeting to be convened upon 30 of the 32 affiliate leagues submitting the request.

Evidence of the continued antipathy from the regions towards the biggest league under the SFAI's umbrella, the Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL), was seen when all 10 of the rule changes they submitted didn't even receive a proposer.

Their cause wasn't helped, of course, by the absence from the meeting of any DDSL official or representative of its 164 clubs.

Mick O'Brien, outgoing chairman of the SFAI after six years, confirmed that there would be no repeat of the situation that precipitated a boycott of the national cup competitions last season by all but one of the 26 Cork teams that qualified for the open draw.

O'Brien will be replaced in the chair by Tim Fitzgerald who, despite being absent due to illness, emerged victorious 29-15 in a ballot of council members against late challenger Pat McNally from the Kildare District Underage League.

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John Early (South Tipperary SL) defeated Limerick's Gerry McCormack 28-16 in a vote for vice-chairman.