St Brendan's left devastated as appeal to play All-Ireland final fails

St Brendan's left devastated as appeal to play All-Ireland final fails

The manager of the St Brendan's College junior team has decided to withdraw from all GAA activity in the school after the GAA cancelled their All-Ireland final.

The Sem were due to face St Pat's, Navan, in the final of the Paul McGirr Cup before the coronavirus shutdown and the GAA's subsequent decision to abandon all outstanding schools' games beyond provincial level.

The Killarney school appealed the "devastating" decision due to the "fierce upset and disappointment" caused to the players involved. Both schools agreed to delay the final until it was possible to facilitate the game, as all players will be returning to school this autumn. To comply with HSE guidelines, they proposed parents transporting their sons via car and live streaming the match for supporters.

However, a reply from director general Tom Ryan noted the decision by the GAA's management committee, which has been handed emergency powers to rewrite the games schedule, was binding as there has to be "give and take from all quarters of the Association".

Kevin Cronin, manager of that under-16-and-a-half team, says the decision showed no give and only take from colleges' competitions. He added that Ryan did not give any "valid justification" why the proposed steps to hold the game safely, in line with the return-to-play policy permitting the return of club and inter-county championships, could not be allowed.

"At this stage, the winning and losing takes a sideline," Cronin told the Irish Examiner. "It's just having that occasion and being able to say they played in an All-Ireland final and look back on it in 20 or 30 years time with their friends but that has been robbed of them now by the GAA, sadly.

"We're attempting to push as many solutions forward. It's just frustrating they're not being taken into account to any degree."

In his correspondence to the school's principal and sports coordinator, Cronin wrote: "As a result of the shocking decision of the GAA to deny our school McGirr Cup team the opportunity to complete their final, I will not be getting involved with any GAA related activity in St Brendan's College in the future.

"I appreciate that you may think this is a rash decision to make, however, I fundamentally cannot be promoting a game, which I have huge passion for, when the hierarchy in the GAA do not recognise and appreciate the value that our young players have in the sport.

"The work ethic, commitment, and focus of this team has astonished me over the past year, giving up a lot of their time, many days which were not schools days (Sunday mornings, mid-terms, and recently summer holidays) to train as a team and improve their skills and ability.

"Having played as a past pupil with St Brendan's College, I understand the competition that exists to make a school team and appreciate the hard work that players go to in order to play at the highest grade in the sport. I firmly believe that as a result of this decision, the GAA are failing our future of the sport and show a total lack of respect to the 'colleges competitions'.

"College competitions offer a unique opportunity to play with friends and club opponents while wearing the same jersey, improving the player's ability to adapt and play in a different setting. Outside of college football, the only other similar setting like this is being part of an inter-county set-up.

"I wish to thank all that got on board to try [to] revert the GAA's decision not to complete this competition. The strong panel of 34 players are a remarkable group of young men, who essentially are the flagbearers for the GAA and I hope that in future these players will be truly valued and respected by the GAA hierarchy.

"In a time of uncertainty, it is great to see fantastic work has been done by county boards to facilitate fixtures for all grades of the game. It is fantastic to see the 'return to play' along with Cúl Camps running across the country, but college competitions haven been halted, with no real reasoning or justification after solutions were offered via an appeal.

"My decision is by no means a reflection on the school, as I am also reviewing the role I hold as senior club secretary with my own GAA club as a result of this decision."

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up