GRASSROOTS GAA clubs in Limerick are furious after a county board meeting on Monday night backed the implementation of controversial playing rules on a permanent basis.
Though chairman Liam Lenihan last night insisted all procedures were followed, one club official described the voting process as ‘a sham, a shambles’ while another has called for an emergency meeting before this weekend’s congress in Cork.
Clubs are especially incensed that by voting to support rule changes relating to late tackles and abuse of officials they unknowingly backed the yellow card replacement format, which they vehemently opposed.
Kilmallock chairman Val Moloney stressed: “The feeling after the meeting was that we voted against the implementation of the new rules. And definitely we voted against the retention of the yellow card replacement rule.
“When I heard it on the radio (that Limerick officials supported the motion) I made a few calls to several others who were at the meeting, and their understanding is the same as mine, that we had decided the direct opposite to what was announced.
“This is a propaganda exercise by Croke Park and the Limerick county board in favour of the new rules. I feel the officers of the board are coming under pressure from Croke Park to get these new rules adopted at all costs.
“The way it was done wasn’t very professional either; there were 42 motions to be voted on, a show of hands on each motion, which meant there was a lot of confusion.
“These are critical changes to the way our games are played, yet there were no voting cards, no proper independent and verifiable counting of votes — on one occasion we had a situation where there more votes cast than were delegates at the meeting!
“It was a sham, a shambles — we had far too little time to debate the motions, everything was rushed through.”
His Patrickswell counterpart Olive Mann concurred. He said “The overall rules package was put to the meeting first and we voted against; we were then told we had to go through each one individually, and a strong case was made to retain two elements of the package — the late tackle and abuse of officials. Those two were accepted but we were strongly against the yellow card replacement rule.”
But Mr Lenihan last night defended the board and rejected any suggestion of coercion from Croke Park. “There was absolutely no outside interference. The delegates voted to accept motion five, motion seven and motion 13, (option one), the motions on late tackles and abusing officials, with the additional change of an extra sub allowed.
“Whether they like it or not, that’s what they voted for; by a small minority, admittedly, but a majority is a majority. We took all the motions individually, and they rejected all the others, but by accepting those motions then they were also accepting the principal of the yellow card replacement rule.
“Some delegates may not always fully inform themselves on the full ramifications, but that’s not our fault.
“We brought down Liam O’Neill to the March meeting and he went through them in detail. They were then e-mailed to the clubs on April 3, and our meeting took place on the 14th, so while some delegates may not have been properly informed, there was plenty of time for discussion, and Liam O’Neill was questioned in depth at that meeting.
“I know a lot of people have reservations about bringing them in at club level, some teams might have only one or two subs for certain games, and that is a problem, but I believe that something has to be done about cynical play, about abuse of officials and this is a serious attempt to address those issues.”
Moloney, however, rejected those arguments, and issued a call for an emergency special meeting before Congress. “That’s his interpretation, and I can see the logic of it, but those of us at the meeting voted, quite categorically, against the new yellow card sanction, so how can you then have a situation where it becomes acceptable for a few specific transgressions?
“There’s no way the delegates did this deliberately, there was a lack of understanding of the consequences — how would they feel now, when they know the full consequences? The most important thing is that the Limerick vote at this Congress should accurately reflect the view of the Limerick clubs, and I don’t that’s the case as things stand – we must have another meeting, and I have already taken steps to try to make that happen.”
Meanwhile Galway have given a massive thumbs down to the experimental rules changes. Delegates last night voted by 36-12 against adopting the experimental rules on a permanent basis.
Galway county board chairman Gerry Larkin said that the motions to go before Congress had been sent to the clubs a couple of weeks ago and they were asked to consider them. “Ultimately, it is the clubs in the county which decide which way Galway will vote on each motion at Congress,” he said.
Wicklow will also be voting against the changes. Clubs decided by a 32 to 18 majority that the new rules should be scrapped though most of the management committee and all the delegates to Congress voted in favour of the changes.
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