Rapparees-Starlights last night clarified their player and Wexford full-back Liam Ryan was injured while training with the club, not the county.
The confusion surfaced when a team mentor claimed the 2019 All-Star nominee had suffered the setback in county training, which is prohibited until September 14.
However, Ryan broke a bone in his foot while training for Rapparees last week in preparation for their opening championship clash against Shelmaliers in Chadwicks Wexford Park on Saturday week.
Club chairman Michael Doyle moved to clear up the confusion. Speaking to the Irish Examiner, he said: “Liam was training below in the club. I was speaking to the lads involved with the team last Monday night and they said as soon as he went down they knew something was serious because Liam wouldn’t lie down too easily. But he stayed down, made no attempt to get back up and they knew he was serious and it turned out it was a broken bone in the foot.
“I didn’t see the interview that 'Skinner' (Rapparees team mentor Padge Walsh) did but he obviously made a remark that was in the heat of the moment. The fact is Liam was injured in training for Rapparees getting ready for the Shels match. That’s where it started and that’s where it finished.
“Our biggest worry is that he will miss the first couple of games. Hopefully, we might have him back later and we are able to get through those games.”
In an interview with Wexford Today, selector Walsh had suggested Ryan hurt himself while “doing something with the county team or something”. However, the Wexford County Board dismissed the claim, a spokesperson stating the hairline fracture to his left foot was incurred while training with the club. Ryan was videoed watching on in crutches at training this week.
Wexford GAA officials and team management are understood to be furious with the intimation they breached the ban on collective inter-county training. Last Friday, county chairpersons were told in no uncertain terms that they would be held responsible should their county teams be found to have trained prior to September 14.
The threat of disqualification from the Championship is also possible under Rule 7.2 (e) of the GAA’s Official Guide, which would consider a contravention of the start date a misconduct offence “to have discredited the Association”.
Suspension is a minimum of eight weeks for a member while debarment and expulsion from the GAA may also be considered. For a team, a fine, disqualification and expulsion from the GAA are also deemed appropriate penalties.
Croke Park hope that the fear of embarrassment for any chairperson whose county team has been proven to operated collectively during the club window prior to the middle of September will be enough of a deterrent. Insurance also does not apply to county training until then.
Should they feel the need to do so, clubs who suspect or wish to report their own county set-up have been encouraged to bypass their board executives and inform Croke Park.
Clubs were issued with the contact email address of the GAA’s operations manager to submit any formal complaints. An email signed by GAA president John Horan, director general Tom Ryan and county chairs read: "The county in question will be forwarded the correspondence and asked to respond to the issues raised within 48 hours of receipt.”