GAA red card for summer switches to Big Apple

GAA chiefs have drafted a new rule to prevent players from abandoning their counties for New York following early Championship defeats.

Laois, Armagh and Offaly have all been rocked by the loss of players to the US following their exit from their respective provincial championships, leaving them at a loss for the qualifiers.

GAA Director General Paraic Duffy revealed a new rule has now been drawn up that will ban all but students from leaving their counties to play summer football in the US.

The rule will ban players from playing Stateside following a Championship appearance here — unless they are students.

He said this rule previously applied to North America but an amendment has been drafted for next spring’s annual Congress extending it to New York, despite pleas from Big Apple officials not to do so.

“The New York board asked us not to do that,” revealed Duffy. “They said they would police this system themselves and it would not happen again. But it has happened again. Players have gone with their teams still in the Championship. They have headed off to New York so Central Council met last Saturday fortnight and took a decision on a recommendation from Management, to bring a motion to Congress next year to extend the rule so that it now relates to New York as well. What that would mean, if it is passed by Congress, is that next year, any full-time student that plays in the Championship and decides to go to America would be allowed to go. That’s part of the student experience. Other players who have played in the Championship or been on a Championship panel, will not be given a sanction to play in New York, just as they are not allowed go to the rest of North America.

But last night, New York County Board chairman Liam Bermingham yesterday defended clubs in the Big Apple who have come under scrutiny for the recruitment of GAA players.

“Perception is a funny thing,” Bermingham told The Irish Examiner yesterday. “When you think about it, how many senior intercounty players are there out here on sanctions? I’ve counted 10 in total. Two from Laois, three from Armagh, three from Offaly and two from Down. That’s the reality of this to the best of my knowledge.

“In the grand scheme of things, that’s a small number. We have hundreds of players here. We don’t want to step on toes. It’s not us against them, be it the North American County Board (NACB) or any of the County Boards.

“But it’s not comparing like with like. The NACB have 13-aside teams and are allowed multiple J1 sanctions for the year. We play 15-aside teams and we only have four sanctions for the year. It’s not a fair comparison.

“Their structure is different too — it’s a summer championship that culminates in mid-August. The New York championship goes through until September and early October.”

Bermingham also sought to place some of the responsibility for pay-for-play on the players themselves. “The clubs in New York are being accused of throwing money at players. What people don’t realise is that we are receiving multiple e-mails from players on a daily basis. Just this morning, two Limerick intercounty players contacted me asking, ‘What can you do for me?’ I understand that clubs at home are under pressure and it is a very tough situation for them and they are then putting pressure on their county boards. But is it perception or is it reality? 10 is not a huge number of players and that is the situation here today to the best of my knowledge.”

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