With the 2020 GAA season merely a matter of days old, Longford County Board finds itself mired in controversy and has issued an apology after just one team was present for the U-16 ‘A’ Football Championship final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park last Sunday afternoon.
The delayed 2019 juvenile showpiece encounter involving St Colmcille’s/St Francis against Killoe Og was scheduled for a 1pm throw-in at county headquarters.
However, the contest didn’t proceed as St Colmcille’s/St Francis was the only side togged out along with the match officials.
Photographs emerged on social media of the St Colmcille’s/St Francis squad on the pitch at Pearse Park, with supporters declaring St Colmcille’s/St Francis as champions and others expressing anger that the game didn’t go ahead.
In response to a query from the Leader on Monday, Longford GAA released a very brief statement in relation to the fixture fiasco pointing out that ‘the matter is subject to investigation’.
The statement added: “We wish to make no comment at this stage other than to apologise to the patrons and officials who were present in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on the day.”
The Co Board also apologised to the family of the late Pearse Daly, Colmcille in whose memory the competition is dedicated to.
The trophy named in his memory wasn’t presented.
In his report to the recent County Convention, Longford GAA Secretary Peter O’Reilly highlighted that “the one remaining match to be played is the Juvenile Championship Final which is on hold pending the outcome of an investigation into certain alleged issues that arose following a game played in this competition in early September.”
The Leader understands that a three person investigation committee, made up of experienced GAA administrators from outside the county, was appointed to deal with the alleged issues and the findings of this investigation, which has concluded, haven’t been disclosed yet.
The Longford Competitions Control Committee fixed the final, the only outstanding fixture from 2019, for last Sunday and the Leader understands that Killoe Og informed the Longford County Board that they would not be fulfilling the fixture as the investigation into the alleged issues were still live and hadn’t been finalised.
There were five teams in the 2019 McDonald’s Longford U-16 ‘A’ Football Championship - St Colmcille’s / St Francis; Killoe Og; Carrick Sarsfields / St Dominic's; Clonbroney / Wolfe Tones Og and Clonguish Og.
The two first round games of the championship were played on Wednesday, September 4, with the concluding and fifth round of the round robin phase taking place on Saturday, September 28.
As it transpired, that fifth round, saw the finalists meet with St Colmcille's / St Francis emerging as 2-16 to 1-12 winners over Killoe Óg.
Despite the reversal, Killoe Óg topped the table and claimed the automatic final place on offer.
The semi-final involved the second and third placed teams, with St Colmcille's / St Francis getting the better of Clonguish Og, 1-12 to 1-8, on Tuesday, October 8. That was three months ago.
In accordance with GAA rule once the alleged issue emerged, no games should have been played in that championship until such time as the issue concerned had been dealt with.
The Longford GAA Management Committee are meeting this week to discuss the fall out and implications of Sunday’s events.