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Clare players AWOLfrom Railway Cup

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — The dwindling reputation of GAA’s Railway Cup was dealt another severe blow Sunday when four Clare players failed to turn up for Munster’s hurling semifinal against Leinster at Nowlan Park.

The dramatic no-show immediately prompted speculation that Clare were boycotting the game because of a dispute between the county and the Munster Council.

The controversial Clare manager, Ger Loughnane, and County Board chairman, Robert Frost, have both been summoned to appear before the Munster Council later this week to explain critical remarks concerning the Council made during a radio interview last summer.

However, Munster’s manager Michael McNamara, who is also the Clare fitness adviser, denied that the four players had snubbed the province.

"I know that some people will take the wrong interpretation from this situation, but there is no way any Clare player would let down a colleague on the Munster team," he said.

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According to McNamara, the four all had legitimate excuses. Davy Fitzgerald and Niall Gilligan had been playing a match with their club, Sixmilebridge, in aid of the Omagh Disaster Fund, Liam Doyle was ill and Anthony Daly withdrew for personal reasons.

However, one Munster player who asked not to be named said neither he nor his teammates knew anything about the unavailability of the Clare players until a couple of hours before the throw-in. "It was a bit of a blow to the morale of the team," he said.

To make matters worse, barely 500 spectators turned up at Nowlan Park to witness a bloodless Leinster victory by 2-15 to 0-9. It was another game that called into serious question the viability of a once popular competition as Leinster called the shots during the second half.

The opening period had been close enough, with Martin Storey’s superb goal the main event, but the winners were dominant after the break with Charlie Carter finishing with an impressive 1-5.

Meanwhile, Connacht qualified to meet Leinster in the final later this month when they saw off the challenge of Ulster by 3-18 to 1-12 at Casement Park.

A scoring burst just before the interval which yielded 2-4 proved decisive for Connacht, who held on comfortably during the second half.

Cathal Moore, Alan Kearins and Alan Kelly all hit goals, while Moore, who was by some way the best player on view, added another six points.

County results

The Galway county football title went to favorites Corofin who defeated An Ceathru Rua by 1-9 to 0-8 at Tuam, while Moyle Rovers came out better in Tipperary with a 3-12 to 1-8 victory over Ardfinnan. Lissycasey and Doonbeg will have to do it all again in Clare after the teams finished level at 2-4 to 1-7.

Also, a late point by Johnny Dooley earned Seir Kieran a 0-13 to 1-10 draw with St. Rynagh’s in the final of the Offaly hurling championship in Birr. St. Rynagh’s, in pursuit of a first title since 1993, looked to have the game wrapped up, but Dooley’s accuracy — he scored 10 points — gave Seir Kieran a reprieve.

Rule 21 debate

The GAA’s controversial Rule 21, which precludes members of the RUC and the British Army from membership of the association, is back in the news. Just a few months after a Special Congress failed to make a decision on the rule, a new proposal to delete it from the books will come before the Dublin County Convention.

According to a report in Ireland on Sunday, there is a strong chance that a motion from the Civil Service club to abolish Rule 21 will be passed. If that happens, then Dublin delegates may go on to make a proposal for next year’s GAA Congress.

Civil Service are also calling for the removal of Rule 42, which effectively rules out soccer and rugby being played at any GAA grounds.

The GAA president, Joe McDonagh, was keen for the abolition of Rule 21 at the last Congress in April, but he was stymied following some strong opposition from Ulster delegates. The matter was referred to a Special Congress last May. However, on that occasion there was a further fudge with no decision taken.

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