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Junior A fixtures row as Robert Emmets players threaten withdrawl and Na Rossa won’t field

General GAA
BY CHRIS MCNULTY

A SIMMERING row over the rescheduling of fixtures has led to Robert Emmets players threatening to withdraw from participating for the club in the Junior A Championship, while Na Rossa have indicated that they will not be fielding in the Junior A Championship against Naomh Ultan on Saturday evening.

The Junior A Championship will have fixtures over the next three weekends, but last Wednesday night the Competitions Controls Committee (CCC) took the decision at its meeting to rejig the fixtures because of a clash with the Ulster Minor final on the weekend of July 20th. The new fixtures meant that Na Rossa had their away game at Naomh Ultan moved from the original July 19th date forward to this Saturday, July 5th, while Robert Emmets’ game against Urris was switched from this weekend to July 19th.

A statement, signed ‘Robert Emmets players and management’, submitted to the Donegal News on Wednesday outlined their feelings on the matter. The Robert Emmets players and management held a meeting on Tuesday night in the clubhouse at Castlefin.

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“We have been forced to make the decision to withdraw from playing for the club, unless the original Junior A Championship fixtures as set out in the fixtures book in April, are reinstated,” the statement read.

“When the players received the information on the championship fixtures, preparations were made to ensure availability.

“Many players in our club exchanged hours with colleagues or took time off to be available for the 6th July fixture, which as of last Wednesday is now not going ahead.

“This also denies our club the opening championship game at home.

“There is also huge discontent about the game fixed on the 19th July, which was originally not on the fixture list for the championship. Many players have arranged to work and take the opportunity to get away with their families this weekend, which will leave an already depleted panel without the adequate numbers to field a team.

“We feel the CCC could have postponed the fixtures concerning the two teams and played them on the weekend of 17th August, instead of being inconsiderate to the 200 plus players from all ten teams who have planned their summer around the original fixtures. Absolutely no consideration has been given towards the impact it will have on the players and their families.”

The situation is along a similar vein for Na Rossa, whose secretary Pat Boyle told the Donegal News on Thursday that they would not be fielding in Dunkineely on Saturday evening.

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“We have made it clear to the CCC that we will not be able to field a team, but all they have told us is that there is nothing they can do,” he said.

The CCC made the decision ‘to assist the county minor team so that Moville and Na Rossa – who have two players each on the panel – would be free of fixtures on the Ulster final weekend’.

“Our position is that we met last Wednesday and we redrafted the fixture list,” CCC Chairman Denis Ellis said.

“Na Rossa and Moville have two players each on the county minor panel. We only changed dates – we didn’t change the draws. It was done to facilitate the county minor team.

“The fixtures put out originally are draft fixtures and things can change over the course of the year in the meantime. The clubs would have got notification last Friday, which should be ample notice for a fixture. The only reason we made the change was to facilitate the county minors and the clubs concerned.”

However, Na Rossa have claimed that they did not receive notification of the decision until Monday night of this week.

Mr Boyle said: “This weekend was designated as a free weekend for Na Rossa and now, four or five days beforehand, we’re told that we have a game. Four of our players, seeing the window of opportunity when the fixtures came out, are away on holidays this weekend. We only got word about this game on Monday night. An email came into us at half nine on Monday. It took us completely by surprise.

“We are struggling for numbers anyway. To take four players out of an already-depleted squad, there is no way we could play. These players don’t get much opportunity to get away so they took this opportunity. We have only four League games left so it isn’t as if we’ll be holding the thing up.

“It is a mess. It’s just not on.

“The Championship should be the main competition. We knew these dates from away back and now they’re changed at the last minute. It kind of demeans the competition.”

Na Rossa have conveyed their feelings to the CCC, but the fixtures body is insisting that the games will not be called off.

Mr Ellis said: “The fixtures are now set in stone. We can’t change them now.

“The fixtures now can’t just be changed. The Donegal minors will have another fixture now regardless of how the Ulster final goes. When could we play the Championship if not now?

“The Official Guide says that we cannot cancel adult fixtures for minors players.”

Na Rossa Chairman Declan Bonner doubles and trebles up as the club’s senior team manager and is also the county minor manager. When contacted, Bonner said he did not wish to comment on the matter.

Mr Ellis said that his body hopes to meet with Bonner on Monday night after a planned meeting last Friday did not take place.

He said: “Myself Sean McGinley (CCC secretary) were unavailable and that was indicated to Mick McGrath (Donegal Children’s Officer) after the request came in to meet us.

“The plan is to meet this coming Monday, but there is very little that we can do.”

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