Naomh Colmcille sanction a disgrace, says benefactor of fund-raising tournament

Paul Dillon, the man diagnosed with motor neuron disease, for whom Donegal club Naomh Colmcille held a fund-raising tournament, has called the disciplinary action against the club a “disgrace and a shock”.

The Newtowncunningham-based club have been sanctioned after a soccer game held at the club grounds was found to have violated Rule 6.40 in the GAA’s Official Guide.

The club is not currently suspended, but a statement this week from the Donegal County Board confirmed “the findings of an investigation has recommended suspension for eight weeks.”

“I just think it’s a total disgrace and a shock,” Dillon told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1’s Today programme.

“This ban should be overturned for the sake of the players and the whole community, the hard work they’ve put into this fundraising for me.

I was involved with Naomh Colmcille for about 15 years. I played with them and I managed underage teams for a long time there. Some of the senior players on the team now that’s talked about being banned, I’d have coached them when they were U12s.

“A bunch of lads I’d have run about with all my life decided to come together and raise some money so the home could be made wheelchair accessible. The pitch it was played on, it was a local soccer pitch. The GAA have it leased. But it is the parish grounds as well.

“I’d just like a bit of common sense to prevail. I knows rules are rules but in situations like this, surely they can slide the rules in some way.

“I’m not too bad at the minute, I’m in good form and trying to stay positive every day. It gave me and my family a whole lift. It was so overwhelming, how much effort was put into it by the community.

“Whoever reported this, I’d like them to come and see how I get through everyday life at the minute.”

Club member Dorina Friel emphasised Naomh Colmcille is not blaming the county board for investigating the event, rather they are disappointed somebody made a complaint.

“I know a lot of people are saying soccer was played, there was a mixture of two sports played that day. All we did was facilitate the grounds. It is part of the community. We opened up the grounds. The ruling that’s come down against us is Rule 6.4 — that we hosted an unauthorised tournament.

“We’ve no complaint against the county board. An official complaint was made and they have to follow the procedure. Nobody knows [who made the complaint]. Whoever made the complaint, they have to live with their decision. We as a parish and as a community, we don’t hold grudges. Life is too short for that. Paul will tell you that.”

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