By Pierce O’Reilly
A bylaw in the New York GAA rulebook has angered and bemused top GAA officials in Ireland. The rule, which states that a player who lines out for a New York club is the possession of that club the following year, unless transferred, has angered county board secretaries and chairmen, who say the rule isn’t in tandem with what Croke Park have told them.
“I never heard such rubbish,” said one county secretary. “If a county player wants to get a weekend sanction to New York, then as far as I’m concerned he can play with what ever club he wants.”
This latest controversy to hit New York GAA surfaced last week when several county boards refused to sign documentation allowing county players who played with one New York club last season to travel on a weekend sanction to a different club this year.
Galway’s county secretary, Bernie O’ Connor, was one of the officials who questioned the New York bylaw. O’Connor refused to sign documentation transferring Tuam Stars player Tommy Carton from the New York Westmeath club to Tyrone, stating that he didn’t understand the bylaw and that as far as he was concerned, Carton could play for whoever and whatever club he wanted this year once he had a weekend sanction.
The New York GAA president, Monty Moloney, said he is concerned with what he called the misconception the county boards had received.
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“We have a bylaw that they don’t recognize,” he said. “Maybe it’s time to tidy up the situation for once and for all.”
Moloney hinted that when the updated rules book committee report back to the board with recommended changes, this bylaw will be further discussed and possibly abolished.
“I understand their frustration,” Moloney said. “They have enough on their hands without worrying about our bylaws.”
The Donegal, Laois and Tipperary county boards all had questions regarding the bylaw and asked how New York clubs could own their county players.
“It’s a ridiculous scenario,” O’Connor said. “We’ve no problem with players heading to New York for a weekend game or for the summer, but to think the clubs own our players is something we’ll have to discuss at Congress.”
Moloney is eager to keep all communication lines open with Croke Park and not upset any top officials. It’s expected that the rule will be abolished before the start of this season’s championship and that county players from Ireland would be allowed play with whatever club they like. The only stipulation is that county players may play with only one club per season.