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06th Sep 2023

Club players in Meath and Offaly in a state of absolute limbo as controversy deepens

Niall McIntyre

The group stages of club championships countrywide are up in the air.

From Meath to Clare to Offaly, there is controversy a-brewing.

It all stems from a rule, put forward by Tipperary club Burgess and passed at congress in February, which states that in the case of a three-way tie in the group stages of club championship games, only the games between the three-affected teams should be counted to calculate the score-difference.

Now that’s all fine, but the controversy comes from the fact that, as is their wont, some counties are still using the old system while some counties are using the new system.

What’s causing all the trouble, as group stages all over the country reach their denouement, is the fact many clubs just simply aren’t aware of what system is being used in their county.

In Cork, for example, the old system is still being used.

In Clare, with the new system in place, they complained that there was little communication as regards the change.

Controversy in Meath

The Meath SFC is in danger of becoming something of a mess for example, with the dispute entering more intricate ground. That’s after the Leinster council ordered a re-fixture between Donaghmore-Ashbourne and Na Fianna to see who advances to the quarter finals of the competition.

Meath county board is now taking this verdict to the CAC and the DRA as they feel that, according to their bye-laws published at the start of the year, Donaghmore-Ashbourne should go through.

The Leinster council had contested this on the grounds that they found ‘ambiguity’ in these bye-laws and ordered a replay between the two clubs so ‘natural justice’ could take its course.

Let’s go back to the start. Donaghmore-Ashbourne defeated Na Fianna on a 1-7 to 0-9 scoreline two weeks ago. There was uncertainty at the time regarding the final table, with three teams finishing level on points in the group.

Curragha exited the conversation seeing as they had an inferior score difference but with Donaghmore-Ashbourne and Na Fianna inseparable on that front, Meath GAA deemed that, on the basis of points scored, Donaghmore-Ashbourne would go through.

On the new metric, however, Na Fianna would go through.

So long story short, Na Fianna believe they should go through and don’t want a replay. But Meath GAA feel Donaghmore Ashbourne should go through, with their quarter final and Na Fianna’s relegation play-off already fixed for this weekend. So they probably don’t want a replay either.

It means that, all things considered, a whole host of clubs are now in a state of absolute limbo as the clock ticks.

Controversy in Offaly

The Offaly controversy is based off the same ruling but seems as though it was slightly more avoidable. That’s after Gracefield’s appeal, lodged “as a matter of principle on the grounds of fairness” looks set to delay the SBFC by a few weeks, despite the fact that they had qualified for the semi-finals of the competition regardless.

Long story short, the new ruling meant Gracefield would have been third in the group, rather than first, where they would have been under the original score difference rule.

A third place finish meant that rather than going straight to the semis, they had to play a quarter final, which they won last weekend. But they didn’t end their appeals process there, eventually had the placings over-turned, and now the semi-final draw that was originally made has been cancelled, with the final now delayed two weeks.

Read the full background to the story here.

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