Galway GAA chiefs have blasted Leinster Council’s decision not to allow the county’s minor and U21 teams join the province, calling on Croke Park to intervene in overturning the result of Wednesday night’s vote.
Leinster Council delegates opted to block Galway’s application for full integration in the province, with hurling board chairman Joe Byrne yesterday describing the decision as “selfish”.
“It is disappointing that the Leinster Council and, indeed, the Leinster counties would take the view that we are not welcome at minor and U21 level which sort of makes you think that the only reason we are welcome at senior level is because we are of benefit to the financial coffers of the Leinster Council,” said Byrne.
“Maybe we need to be talking to the officials in Croke Park and see can they intervene in this. There is a minor review group and maybe one of their recommendations should be that Galway are in Leinster. Maybe pressure from on high needs to come on Leinster to not give the selfish decision they gave on Wednesday.”
County board chairman Noel Treacy says Galway are being denied “equality of opportunity”, adamant they would fight the result of Wednesday’s vote.
“We certainly are not saying that’s that. We will take stock to see where we go from here. Whatever structure we have to play in to ensure more games for our underage teams we are prepared to do so. We now have to look at the rule situation regarding the decision taken by Leinster Council. We will look at everything in totality and see is there any avenue open to us. “I don’t see this as a set-back, I see this as an interruption in our program to achieve equality of opportunity for all teams in hurling. We believe that all teams competing for an All-Ireland should be in the same kind of equal competitive environment. This is not the case as far as Galway is concerned. We are disappointed with the result because we think we are making a contribution to the game in Leinster.
“The fact that our All-Ireland minor champions from 2011 have played only three competitive games at U21 level in the past three years is not good for their development. We’re training our underage teams for one game in August. It is costing us a huge amount to train them and we are not getting a competitive return. The financial assistance we get from Leinster is small. It is hit or miss whether we are ready for August at U21 level where we face either the Leinster or Munster champions who have come through difficult campaigns. On that basis, we believe and we think it is important we be involved from an earlier date.”
Leinster Council chairman John Horan expressed disappointment at the comments of Byrne and Treacy, rubbishing the suggestion that Galway’s seniors were only accepted into the province to bolster Leinster coffers.
“Finances had nothing to do with this decision,” he stressed.
“We gave Galway extra funding last year so to say they get paltry amounts is not fair. I would not accept the comments of Galway officials that this was a selfish decision. This was self-interest, counties looking out for themselves. There is a big difference between the two. The decision not to allow Kerry into the Leinster minor hurling championship was unanimous. The decision not to allow the Galway minor or U21 hurling teams into Leinster was far less unanimous.
“I am not surprised at the result. There was a sense that Galway’s involvement at underage would hinder the development of emerging counties in Leinster. At senior level, counties are established. At minor level, lads are still developing. Galway have been so strong at minor level, winning seven All-Irelands in the last twenty years. Delegates took that into account when casting their vote.”
He added: “At minor level, if you reach the Leinster final you get two bites of the cherry. Win or lose, you are guaranteed a place in the All-Ireland quarter-final. That is a pretty big carrot for developing counties. That carrot would have been less achievable with Galway in Leinster. That is why delegates blocked Galway.”
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