The organiser of a fundraising national free-taking competition has strongly criticised Croke Park for forcing the event to be moved to a grounds outside the control of the GAA.
Dundalk Young Irelands’ Adrian O’Donoghue claims the GAA initially had no issue with the Cic SaorChampionship before recentlydecreeing it is a breach of theorganisation’s amateur status.
With a prize fund originally estimated to be €30,000 and the winner receiving €10,000, thecompetition had drawn the attention of several top inter-county players and was set to be staged on the club’s grounds on Saturday week.
However, following correspondence from Croke Park, it will now take place at St Mary’s Marist College in Dundalk, a non-unit of the GAA and the first prize is guaranteed to be a minimum of €2,000.
An irate O’Donoghue said the GAA’s action has forced them to rethink the size of the event.
“We’ve had to hold back hugely on advertising and had to downsize it. When you can’t kick a ball over the bar on your own club grounds and you see rugby and soccer being played in Croke Park — it’s double standards. I think it’s scandalous, really.”
The GAA confirmed last night they had refused to sanction it as they viewed it as contravening rule 1.10 of the GAA’s Official Guide.
“It’s a breach of the rule — cash remunerations for players in any game-related scenario — and this is one such instance,” said GAAcommunications manager Alan Milton.
O’Donoghue is disappointed Croke Park acted so late against the event after the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) had previously stated to them that it didn’t fall within their remit.
He said: “We went down the official route on March 22 and looked for guidance from Croke Park regarding a fundraising event and whether we could offer up cash prizes or vouchers and what were the limitations. Wereceived an email within an hour telling us that there were no taximplications and to go ahead with the event.
“That gave us the green light to apply to the CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee)officially to run the event and it was stressed that Dundalk Young Irelands were only hosting the event not staging it.
“On June 29, we received an email back from the CCCC informing us that it was not a GAA sport and it was therefore out of their jurisdiction.Basically, none of their business.”
O’Donoghue insisted there has been no attempt to undermine the amateur ethos on the part of the organisers.
He said the Cic Saor is a novel attempt to fundraise for Dundalk Young Irelands, which claims to be the oldest GAA club in the country.
“Traditionally, you do lotteries and golf classics but no matter how much people want to give you, they don’t have it. The Cic Saor is somethingdifferent and was well received and a lot of the top players in Gaelic football liked the idea and the concept.”
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