Sunday 18 August 2019

Fethard cry foul

Chairman condemns County Board

Fethard’s Daire Barden surges away from Thomas Barron (Shelmaliers) in the Tom Doyle Supplies SFC game in Taghmon on Friday
Fethard’s Daire Barden surges away from Thomas Barron (Shelmaliers) in the Tom Doyle Supplies SFC game in Taghmon on Friday
Fethard’s Mikie Dwyer - still a Minor - in action against Liam Kearney of Kerry in the recent All-Ireland Junior semi-final in Dungarvan

Brendan Furlong

Fethard Club Chairman George Foley has hit out at G.A.A. officials in the county after they decided to dump the club out of the Under-21 hurling Premier championship.

Fethard were scheduled to play Glynn-Barntown in the quarter-final, but were only made aware on the morning of the game that the C.C.C.C. had deemed that the club conceded a walkover, when their simple request was for a postponement owing to their heavy schedule of fixtures.

Both Foley and the Fethard club are clearly annoyed with the treatment of their Under-21 hurlers by the powers that be.

The irate Chairman said on Sunday afternoon: 'It's very disappointing and short-sighted of the G.A.A. in Wexford not to grant the club a postponement given that they had such a heavy schedule over the coming week which also included inter-county.

'Our Minor hurlers were scheduled to play on the Wednesday evening prior to the Wexford v. Kerry All-Ireland Junior football semi-final. But the Minor game against Cloughbawn was called off to facilitate the county Junior team management so as to have Mikie Dwyer fresh for their game,' he said.

'But what really disappointed me was the decision of Coiste na nOg to re-fix the Minor game for some 24 hours later (Sunday evening). What message does that send out to the clubs? Where is player welfare? Where does the club stand in all of this? It's alright to facilitate the inter-county set-up but why does this not apply to the clubs?

'We have a very young player set-up, with the same players also involved in Under-21, Junior and Senior. Our Junior team also played on that Friday night,' he added.

The fixture schedule handed to the club for the week led to their decision to call for a deferral of the Under-21 hurling quarter-final.

'We had the Minor game re-fixed for Sunday evening, followed by Under-21 hurling Tuesday evening, a further Minor game the following Wednesday evening, with an important Senior football game against St. Fintan's that Saturday.

'We had so many players involved in all of those games, that it led us to making the call. It was not all about Mikie Dwyer but he was treated abysmally, asked to play All-Ireland Junior and club Minor within a 24-hour gap period, and this to suit inter-county, not the club,' Foley said.

'This all left us with a real dilemma. I spoke with the County Chairman (Diarmuid Devereux). I told him what was going on in the county was hypocritical. I have been attending County Board meetings, I hear what's going on, but there's no interest in the clubs. The clubs are no longer relevant after all of this.

'The County Chairman saw no reason why the Under-21 fixture could not be put back, as he was of the opinion they only had to have Junior, Intermediate and Senior championships completed to allow for Leinster Club participation. I was asked to send an e-mail to him, the County Secretary, and he (Chairman) would speak with the fixtures committee.

'The next I heard was on Tuesday morning, the morning of the game, when I was told that Fethard had conceded a walkover. We did not concede a walkover, we simply asked for a postponement.

'Players in this county are simply being slaughtered. Why did Coiste grant a postponement to facilitate an adult game?' he asked.

'We are a small club. We have worked relentlessly to promote hurling in particular along with football. We are trying to protect our players as we have one of the youngest Senior teams in the county.

'We are pulling our players out for the majority of grades from Minor right through to adult. We did not play the All-County Leagues and the Jim Byrne Cup, and this was no disrespect to the competitions, it was simply to protect the players who play so many grades for the club and also their college teams. We want our players playing at 31 and 32 years of age, not retiring in their mid-twenties.

'People say we had a right to appeal but common sense should have prevailed. We don't do walkovers, we play all our games. We were simply trying to protect our players.

'My own son is just 22 years of age and has already undergone two operations. Whoever is responsible for postponing the Coiste fixture for adult did not even have the courtesy to contact the club.

'Wexford, it seems, just want to get all their games played, and get games out of the way, but what about the idle two months for clubs mid-summer? Surely Under-21 games could have been fitted in but the inter-county teams are more important now than clubs.

'The two Under-21 semi-finals have now been played but it will be interesting to see when the county final will be played. We have given so much to the promotion of hurling in the club. We have brought it up from nothing. Our aim is to be a dual Senior club again, and we will get there over the next few years.

'To say we are disappointed with Wexford G.A.A. and the treatment handed out to our players and club is putting it mildly,' he added.

Wexford People

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