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Flexibility needed over GAA rules

While the GAA is plainly entitled to insist that its facilities are primarily used for Gaelic games, the high profile dispute which has arisen in Co Donegal again indicates an unfortunate lack of flexibility in the association's rules.

Newtowncunningham GAC is facing an eight week ban from all activities for hosting an `unauthorised tournament', which turns out to have been a seven-a-side soccer friendly on its practice pitch raising funds for a former player and coach, Paul Dillon, who suffers from motor neurone disease.

Mr Dillon has expressed his anger over the punishment, which has echoes of the controversy over the charity match for the late Ireland and Celtic star Liam Millar eventually allowed to proceed at Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium in Cork last year.

A subsequent change in the official guidelines allowing outside sports to be accommodated in exceptional circumstances only applies to county grounds, and there would be considerable relief if it was extended to cover club facilities as well.

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