Éire Óg Ennis pull out of championship amid fears over unpaid player insurance

A Clare GAA club has withdrawn from the County Intermediate Football Championship because many of their players are uninsured.

Éire Óg of Ennis says not enough of their players have paid the annual membership fee and therefore they would not be insured in case of on-field accidents.

Throughout 2016, the club has adapted a policy of not fielding unregistered members. Éire Óg were due to play Clarecastle last Sunday but they did not fulfil that fixture. They also withdrew from the division 3 football league earlier this season.

Club Secretary Paddy Smyth explained to the Clare Champion: “We are not allowing any team to take the field unless they are all fully paid up members.”

He cited a previous instance where a senior club hurler was told he would be dropped from the club’s championship team, unless he paid his membership.

“We want everyone to be paid up members for insurance reasons. If there is a problem and someone has an insurance claim, we want to live within the boundaries. Our senior hurling team was picked and in the first 15 there was one individual who wasn’t a paid up member. We told the management who went to the player, said his selection was subject to him paying membership and his membership was duly paid.”

Some clubs opt to pay the membership of their players and later recoup the money but Smyth doesn’t think that’s a viable option. “Legally that’s a bad move. We’re trying to be totally above board in how we run our club. Maybe people might think we’re being a bit over the top but that’s where we’re going,” he stressed.

Paddy Smyth accepted the decision might not be a popular one but insisted it was the right move. “It might be a painful process but you have to take the first step. We feel that if we make the hard call, we’ll get more respect within the club and more respect for the club.

“What you have then are people that want to be part of it, rather than people that are using it. You might say we’re on the high moral ground, but as a club your systems and membership have to be right.”

The decision means Éire Óg will field just one adult (senior) football team for 2016 when clubs in areas of smaller populations can field up to two.


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