Éire Óg players pull out of Wicklow county teams

A mammoth problem has landed on the desk of Wicklow’s new football manager before he starts work, following the decision of Éire Óg’s players to withdraw from both county teams next year.

The Greystones players have taken this drastic action to vent their anger over the way they were treated 10 days ago by being fixed to play vital championship matches in the penultimate stages of the football and hurling championships within 24 hours of each other.

Now Kerryman John Evans will have to use all his diplomatic and persuasive skills if he is to entice Stephen Kelly, Darren Hayden, and Daniel Woods to come back on side.

Stephen ‘Chester’ Kelly is a dual county player and he is one of five players who have quit the county hurling team in protest over the treatment meted out their club teams by county board and fixtures officials.

The other players who have decided to hang up their ‘county’ hurleys in protest are Billy Cuddihy, Peter Keane, Anton Byrne, and James Cranley.

Incidentally Billy Cuddihy’s father Dr Brendan, who has been giving his services to county teams on a purely voluntary basis, has quit his position over the unfair treatment of his club.

Ignoring pleas by Éire Óg, Wicklow County Board and fixture’s officials insisted on forcing the club’s hurlers and footballers to play two championship matches in the space of 24 hours.

Not surprisingly the Greystones men lost both encounters, beaten 3-17 to 4-9 by Glenealy in the SHC semi-final; and less than 24 hours later bowing out of the SFC at the quarter-final stage after losing 2-14 to 1-9 to Baltinglass in a replay.

The seven Éire Óg inter-county players met and decided to send an email to the county board informing them that they would not be available to county teams in 2018.

An Éire Óg source emphasised that there was no rush to finish the hurling championship as the Leinster Club outing for Sunday’s champions is five weeks away, on November 5.

‘Some of these players have given 10, 11 and 12 years to the county and their decision is something they have not taken lightly. Their welfare was not taken into account.

‘This is not happening because Eire Og did not win, we have a right to fair treatment.”

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