St Brendan’s College, Killarney are hopeful “common sense will prevail” and the GAA will row back on its decision to abandon this year’s All-Ireland post-primary competitions.
Included in the GAA's revised 2020 master fixtures plan released last Friday was a recommendation from the Central Competitions Control Committee that post-primary competitions should be completed to provincial final stage only. Basically, that there be no All-Ireland series at any level.
The All-Ireland post-primary senior hurling championship was at the semi-final stage when Covid-19 brought the shutters down on the sporting world in mid-March, while two of the four provincial finals — Leinster and Ulster — in the All-Ireland post-primary senior football championship had yet to be played.
The All-Ireland post-primary junior football championship was a little more advanced than both of the aforementioned competitions, what with the All-Ireland semi-finals having been played the week before then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ordered the closing of schools.
Given there is just one game remaining in the junior football championship, finalists St Brendan’s College, Killarney — who were due to meet St Pat’s Navan in the decider — believe the competition should be finished in the autumn when schools return.
Following a meeting of the GAA’s post-primary schools committee on June 15, an email was sent to all relevant schools which stated, “it was agreed that the committee desired to complete the outstanding fixtures for 2019/2020”.
However, a follow-up mail last Friday confirmed that this request had not been granted by Croke Park top-brass and the 2019/20 All-Ireland post-primary competitions were to be declared null and void.
“I understand that this decision is not what teams involved will have hoped for and it wasn't the wish of the Post Primary School Council, but as we are a sub committee of Coiste Bainistí, we must adhere to the decision made,” read last Friday's mail.
St Brendan’s College, Killarney will appeal the decision and said they have spoken to final opponents St Pat’s Navan, who are equally disappointed at the decision by Croke Park to abandon a competition which had only one game left to run.
“When we heard the news on Friday, there was disappointment and frustration. The players are devastated,” said St Brendan’s College sports coordinator Edward O’Neill.
“From our point of view, there is one game to play. It is an U16 and a half age-grade competition so all the players involved will be back in school when school resumes in the autumn. If we are all back playing games by then, I can't see why common sense doesn't prevail and they don't just play the game.
“If the respective board of managements approve of the game going ahead, I can't see why the GAA would prevent them from playing a one-off final. We have got no reason why the competition isn’t being finished.”
O’Neill added: “If the game was to go ahead, all safety concerns would be addressed. I know parents would bring their own sons so there would be no bus or anything like that. We'd play it behind closed doors, whatever was needed. But to play it is important.”