BY CHRIS MCNULTY
MEMBERS of the Fanad United club last night walked out on a heated meeting of the Ulster Senior League.
The walkout came after a fractuous debate between members of the League executive and Fanad delegates during the report of League registrar Dessie Kelly at the meeting in the Mount Errigal Hotel.
Mr Kelly, who is the secretary of the League’s Disciplinary Committee, tabled a statement from the disciplinary body informing clubs that they would not sit on any protests or appeals when legal representation, independent of the concerned clubs, was brought into their hearings. This came after Fanad United’s winning of their 14th Ulster Senior League crown was only settled in the boardroom after a long wrangle stretching back to their play-off game in November.
A protest by Cockhill Celtic claimed that Fanad had been in breach of a rule governing the amount of players from their A Championship team who had played in the Ulster Senior League. The protest was eventually thrown out by the Football Association of Ireland, who said that Fanad’s A Championship team was not classed as a senior team.
This information had been stated in an email sent by FAI Chiefs in Dublin last march, but Association members in Donegal failed to pass on the message to USL members, who only learned the status following Cockhill’s appeal. A protracted boardroom battle only ended a few weeks ago when the FAI ruled in Fanad’s favour.
League Registrar Dessie Kelly said that club delegates were quite capable of representaing their clubs at hearings and protests without the need for legal backing.
Furious Fanad manager Ollie Horgan blasted League Chairman Eamon McConigley for comments he made at a meeting last April, stating that Fanad were a senior club. Horgan demanded that the Chairman explain his comments and when Jim McConnell denied claims that he had informed the Chairman that Fanad were governed by the senior rule the three Fanad officials – team manager Horgan, secretary Moira Sweeney and committee member Patrick Sweeney – walked out insisting that they’d ‘had enough’.
As a result of last year’s battle, which brought a cloud over the League, USL officials have requested a meeting with FAI chiefs to examine their rulebook before the start of the new season.
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