THE GAA will not punish counties who have contravened the inter-county training camp rule — unless they receive complaints from clubs.
The Association’s director of games administration and player welfare Feargal McGill confirmed they haven’t looked into the issue of Kildare’s senior footballers training at Johnstown House in Enfield last weekend because they haven’t been made aware of any opposition to the camp.
Because the Allianz Football League Division 2 final between Donegal and Laois was played the Sunday previous and they are not out in the championship until May 22 when they face Wicklow in Portlaoise, Kildare were in breach of the rule.
The Irish Examiner is aware of an Ulster inter-county football team who are planning to stage a two-day camp in Ireland this weekend and opening provincial game falls outside the 13 days.
However, the county in question has staged several rounds of club league fixtures over the last two weeks.
McGill revealed they will not follow up on any reported training camp unless clubs take exception to them.
“We haven’t been asked to look at it,” he said about the Kildare situation.
“We’re aware of it but the key people in all this are the clubs. That rule was put in there to ensure club games are played.
“If club people find it acceptable then that’s fine. Kildare, no more than any other county, have a county board made up of clubs and that’s ultimately where it lies.
“If they’re happy then that’s as far as we will go with it.”
Newly-appointed Kildare chairman John McMahon recently admitted there was local opposition to the unavailability of the inter-county footballers to their clubs last weekend.
However, he insisted the training wasn’t a camp and players didn’t have to stay in the hotel over the three days.
At Kildare’s April county board meeting, McMahon had to defend the training camp in the face of strong opposition from Moorefield chairman Peter Whyte who claimed it was “in breach of the rule in the official guide” and “a huge disadvantage to the clubs” ahead of the start of the senior county championships, which start this weekend.
However, Whyte is now satisfied rule 6.23 (b) hasn’t been contravened by last weekend’s events in Enfield.
“We were told at that county board meeting that we weren’t in breach of any rule,” said Whyte, “that the rule was primarily brought in to stop county teams leaving the country for training camps so we’re satisfied with that.
“Our only concern as a club was that our county board might be in breach of an official GAA rule but we were told we weren’t.”
This time last year, Mayo footballers were forced to cancel their six-day championship preparation trip to Portugal at the last minute as it fell outside the three designated windows in which they could have travelled.
Kerry’s footballers recently returned from a training trip to the same country, which they were entitled to do as it was scheduled before the Division 1 final between Cork and Dublin.
Dublin, Cork and Waterford’s hurlers have all gone on foreign training camps this year while Tipperary spent a couple of days in Maynooth’s Carton House last weekend.
GAA President Christy Cooney last year urged counties not to hold training camps outside the country but arrange them for Irish destinations.
It’s not the first time it has been reported Kildare’s senior footballers might be infringing GAA rules. At the end of 2009, it was suggested they broke the two-month winter training ban on their 14-day USA trip.
Although they received special dispensation from Croke Park to play a New York selection because it was promoting Gaelic football, eyebrows were raised about the trip which was deemed a bonding one and also saw them spend 10 days in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, the latest club versus county controversy that looked set to hit Kildare has been diverted after the county board confirmed minor inter-county players will be available to play for their senior club teams this weekend.
It had been strongly suggested in the county that they wouldn’t be allowed as they face Offaly in a Leinster MFC quarter-final next Saturday.
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