The biggest controversy to hit Laois GAA this year has been the abandonment of an U-16 hurling game between Clonaslee-St Manman’s and Rosenallis following a serious injury picked up by a Rosenallis player.
Three suspensions to Clonaslee players followed – two eight-week bans and one four-week one – but the Rosenallis club criticised the GAA rules at Monday’s Laois County Board meeting for allowing the suspended players to play at other age grades and in football.
“We are disappointed that the rules of our association seem to allow for the perpetrators of an offence to be free to play a game the following day whereas the injured player may be out of our games for several months or longer.”
Laois GAA secretary Niall Handy confirmed that the suspensions handed out only apply to the same code and grade – ie U-16 hurling. And he added that he has highlighted a problem with the suspension rules in his last two annual secretary’s report.
“I have stated in the last two conventions that the suspensions are far too lax. They require change but this is what we are dealing with,” he said.
“There is an anomaly there. In county games if you are sent off in your last league game you are suspended for the championship but in club games if you are sent off in your last league game you aren’t.”
“Does the seriousness of the issue not come into question,” asked Mick Fitzpatrick the Rathdowney-Errill delegate.
“Can only deal what is in the referee’s report,” replied chairman Gerry Kavanagh. “He is the only neutral witness. The referee’s report is factual in all incidences.”
“At a league game the referee is generally the only neutral there,” added Niall Handy.
“The point we’re making is if you’re suspended in one sport, you’re allowed to play in another,” added the Rosenallis delegate.
The Rosenallis statement in full, which was read out at the meeting, was:
“To date Rosenallis club have not made any public comment on the incident which resulted in one of our juvenile players being hospitalised after being knocked unconscious as a result of being struck to the head with a hurl. We have not done so because we feel as a club the only recourse is to have the incident dealt with through Laois GAA.
“Following the suspensions handed down by the CCC we are disappointed that the rules of our association seem to allow for the perpetrators of an offence to be free to play a game the following day whereas the injured player may be out of our games for several months or longer. It is regretful that the message being sent out by suspensions such as these is not conducive to parents encouraging their children to play our games.
“We as a club have and always expect to send out our players to participate in a safe and enjoyable environment. This is something we would ask our fellow clubs in Laois to with us in. We would also like to thank all the clubs across the county for the concerns and good wishes conveyed to us regarding this incident.”