Tuesday 21 January 2020

Health and safety pulled plug on home games for Harriers

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

Health and safety regulations are providing major issues for many sporting outfits, G.A.A. clubs in particular.

Various presentations have been made on the topic and the importance of such regulations being adhered to in clubs at meetings of the County G.A.A. Board, and it's known that any defects in upholding the regulations will be severely dealt with.

The standards have been set, so when Faythe Harriers and Páirc Charman failed to meet the regulations as set down by the various authorities, they paid an embarrassing penalty last week.

The reigning Division 1 national Féile champions lost out on hosting their hurling games, with Páirc Charman as a whole also coming under the scrutiny of the health and safety regulations inspection.

For Faythe Harriers it was a huge disappointment not being able to defend their title on club soil, with their games being moved to Innovate Wexford Park and Bellefield respectively.

Arriving at such a decision on the eve of the hosting of these games was a big talking point late last week. The concern of the health and safety regulations were raised when, following an inspection of the Páirc Charman complex, it was deemed unsuitable and unsafe for the hosting of such a prestigious competition.

A number of areas of concern were raised, among them: the lack of safety on the embankments; the failure to have a secure guard around the gas heating tank; failure to provide a detail for the control of traffic; the lack of security at the building site for the club's clubhouse; no shower facilities in the club dressing-rooms, along with other issues, such as the lack of a security fencing on the embankment at the back of the Volunteers pitch, leading to a steep drop to the entrance to the Faythe Harriers ground.

The failure of the Faythe Harriers club to become proactive in the lead-up to the Féile, ensuring that the facilities met with the health and safety regulations, eventually led to the decision to have the games removed from the venue.

This must have been a source of embarrassment not just to Faythe Harriers and Páirc Charman, but also Wexford G.A.A. Board.

The aim of Féile is to create a festival of hurling and camogie, to increase the number of children playing, and to improve playing standards. It's an event that has grown in popularity which led to a review of these competitions, including Féile Peil na nOg, at Congress 2013, chaired by Games Development Committee Chairman, Micheál Martin, a member of the Volunteers club and current County Vice-chairman.

The review involved widespread consultation among counties and clubs, with the findings highlighting the many positives associated with the competitions, but it also raised some concerns to be addressed.

Páirc Charman and Faythe Harriers failed to comply in one key area and paid a costly and embarrassing penalty, as it was the first time a Wexford club has been debarred from the hosting of games.

While on the subject of Féile, a word of well done to all other clubs in Wexford who had their facilities looking splendid for the visiting teams, mentors and supporters, winning widespread praise for their hospitality and facilities provided.

During the busy weekend of G.A.A. activity, the contribution of former Wexford manager, John Meyler, to the upsurge of Cork hurling was brought to my attention. The Rebel county have brought the glamour back to Munster hurling like their counterparts in Wexford who have set the Leinster championship alight.

And regarding Meyler, I was delighted to see my good friend make such an impact on the Munster championship, given the raw treatment he was subjected to in his native county.

Wexford had made real progress under his management, only losing out narrowly to Waterford in an All-Ireland quarter-final. But thereafter came a slippery slope for Wexford hurling, and all this after then Chairman Ger Doyle along with County Secretary, Margaret Doyle, travelled to Dungarvan where Meyler was dismissed, leading to some heated debate at a subsequent Board meeting.

This led to Wexford hurling going into the doldrums with some players subsequently deciding it was not worth wearing the county jersey under Colm Bonnar.

The game was resurrected following this by Liam Dunne, but it has taken until 2017 for Wexford under Davy Fitzgerald to win back their Division 1A status and qualify for a provincial final - all of nine years after Meyler got the chop.

Wexford People

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