Naomh Colmcille will go before the Donegal Hearings Committee tonight for having a fundraising soccer competition on their grounds for a club member who has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease.
A soccer competition, which was not arranged by the club but instead a fundraising committee headed by local councilor Paul Canning in the village between Letterkenny and Derry with a population of 1,500, was held at Pairc Colmcille’s second pitch in Newtowncunningham in February for 45-year-old Paul Dillon, a local butcher who played senior football and coached underage at the club.
It formed part of a series of fundraisers in the area for a charity drive that also included more than 20 events such as 5k runs, table-quizzes, auctions, dances, along with boot-camps.
The soccer tournament managed to generate a figure in the region of €5,000 alone.
In all, over €85,000 was raised to modify the family home of Paul, his wife Emma, and their three children. A bedroom and bathroom are currently being built onto their home and is expected to be completed by the summer.
The Newtowncunningham-based club was found to be in breach of sections 5.1 and 6.4 of the GAA’s official guide and last week it was reported their adult teams had received an eight-week ban for hosting what is termed as “an illegal tournament”.
However, Donegal County Board said no suspension had been handed out and the club would receive “due process”. A statement read:
The club is not currently suspended but the findings of an investigation has recommended suspension for eight weeks — this is the minimum period of suspension for holding an unauthorised tournament.
In February, the GAA Annual Congress voted in favour of using county grounds for non-GAA related activity but the rule does not extend as far as covering club grounds.
“I think it’s a disgrace and a shock,” Dillon told RTÉ Radio 1’s Today programme last week. “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.
“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 know rules are rules but in situations like this, surely they can slide the rules some way.”
Naomh Colmcille won the Donegal and Ulster JFC titles in 2017 and currently play in Division 3 of the All-County Football League in Donegal.