By Pierce O’Reilly
New York’s GAA executive board red carded the Donegal GFC at its emergency meeting last Thursday evening at Gaelic Park. The move reinstated Fermanagh for the Junior “A” Final.
The contentious events marred what should have been a historic weekend for the Gaels with All-Ireland Champions Galway in town to play New York in the FBD League Final.
Fermanagh lodged eight objections against the Donegal club following their semifinal exit. At Thursday night’s executive meeting, only one of the objections was upheld.
“The decision was unanimous,” chairperson Liam Bermingham said after reinstating Fermanagh to play Kerry in Sunday’s final. Bermingham refused to comment on the ruling or the looming suspensions that will be handed down to the club and the player in question.
Armagh senior footballer and New York’s most accomplished and decorated performer, Peter Loughran, is at the center of the GAA mess. It was an objection to the New York all-star that sent the Ulster men packing. Loughran is now likely to feel the full brunt of Croke Park GAA laws and be handed a whopping 12-month suspension.
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The dispute arose after Donegal beat Fermanagh by 11 points in the Junior “A” semifinal. The ugly off-field brawl resulted in both clubs proclaiming their innocence. However, it was Donegal who were left blushing and embarrassed. Fermanagh claimed that Donegal’s star attacker, Peter Loughran, is not entitled or eligible to play Junior Football in New York. After reviewing the objection for over two hours, the New York executive board upheld the objection.
Donegal Chairman Lawrence McGrath was livid with the decision and proclaimed in the immediate aftermath that no Donegal player would line out for the county side against Galway. He also vowed that Donegal were finished with championship football this year.
“It’s a complete disgrace, Monty Moloney isn’t allowed to write rules for the rest of the GAA here in New York,” McGrath said. “It’s about time that the executive board was abolished for once and for all.”
The rule regarding Loughran’s objection states that if a player plays junior football exclusively one year, he is entitled to play both senior and junior the following year and become what’s known as a “draft player.”
Peter Loughran played only junior for Donegal last year, but because he played on a weekend sanction, he was not at the time the property of the club and correctly, according to the executive committee, illegal to play junior this year.
New York GAA president Monty Moloney stated clearly in February of this year that a player who played junior on a sanction last year was not eligible to be a draft player this year. Speaking over the weekend, Moloney said that he was disappointed with the Donegal club and their antics.
“Shame on you,” he said. “No club will hold the New York board to ransom.”
The fate of Loughran and the Donegal club will be finalized at this week’s GAA meeting at Gaelic Park.