Voted in by 80% of delegates at Congress last month, the rule states any player wishing to line out for another county must play in that county’s championship that year or in the previous season.
But for clubs deciding to bring forward the start of the London SFC from July to the end of this month, 12 London players would not have been eligible to face Leitrim in their June 3 Connacht opener.
In a GPA-backed, strongly-worded statement to the Irish Post, the players criticised the rule and insisted an exception be made for the Exiles.
“London footballers fiercely oppose the new draconian law and are planning to launch an appeal and hope the GAA use their common sense in having a deviation of the motion for London.
“The new rule doesn’t promote Gaelic games overseas, one of the main aims of the association, and is therefore intrinsically wrong.
“Due to the current economic situation in Ireland, it is no coincidence that immigration to London has increased, forcing many young people, like ourselves, to seek employment overseas.
“This has invariably been the case for many Irish people since the inception of our great Association, namely John McKay, one of the GAA’s founders; Sam Maguire, former captain of London footballers and eponym of the Sam Maguire Cup; and Liam MacCarthy, former vice-chairman of the London County Board and eponym of the Liam MacCarthy Cup.”
Referring to the decision as “disgraceful”, the statement continued: “We’ve been in the gym, training and flying back and forth to Ireland since November 2011, and to be told five weeks before the championship that over a dozen of our team-mates, including our captain, aren’t allowed to play is disgraceful and we dare say the men mentioned above would be ashamed that the GAA has fallen to such depths.
“As a panel, we’ve decided we are committed to the London county team and to playing club football in London.
“Like the vast majority of young Irish people over here, we all had aspirations to be living in Ireland, to play football with our mates, to have a job, to get married and to raise our kids in Ireland. Sometimes it’s hard to let these aspirations go.”
The footballers also thanked the clubs for rescheduling the London SFC but pointed out they are now in a quandary as a result of it.
“It was an impossible position we’ve put the clubs in, allowing just two weeks for preparations, which will in turn take away from the county team’s preparations, an extremely tough but necessary decision for both parties.
“Our only hope is that Croke Park can take a leaf out of London GAA’s common sense book and agree with the London players when we say we fiercely oppose the new law.”