GAA not even-handed in training camp punishments says Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney
ARMAGH boss Kieran McGeeney has questioned why the GAA didn’t have “the courage” to apply the same punishment to all counties who flouted a pre-Championship training ban last year.
The Orchardmen are facing up to playing their first National League home game at a neutral venue, and it is understood their Division Two clash with Clare - slated for the Athletic Grounds on February 3 - will now be played at Pairc Esler in Newry.
Along with Laois, Waterford and Wexford, the Orchardmen were found to have broken the training regulations after travelling to Portugal in the weeks after the conclusion of their 2018 League campaign.
However, considering the investigation originally involved 17 counties – including All-Ireland champions Dublin, who said their trip to France was a historical pursuit – McGeeney has questioned why so few were eventually sanctioned.
“If they had the courage to follow through with everybody, but if there’s cultural trips and bonding trips… ours was a training trip,” said McGeeney, whose side face Donegal in the Dr McKenna Cup semi-final in Omagh on Sunday.
“We just put our hands up and said it. Now, if there’s 25-26 teams do it and one gets punished… but that’s par for the course.
“We tried to do things right. We brought it to the clubs, we asked for permission, we got it, we changed the game from one weekend to another weekend for them… you can’t do much more than that.
“But listen, I’ve seen it, I’ve been in that rules committee and it’s politics. To me it’s not done right. People say ‘that’s the punishment, everybody knew’ and that’s fair enough, but then do it to all the teams.”
When asked if he had sought further clarification on the matter, McGeeney replied: “Sure I know. Things haven’t changed in a hundred years and they won’t change, that’s just the way things are done.”
On losing home advantage for their date with the Bannermen, he added: “It’s not nice, even for the fans here; a home game’s a home game for them too.
“It’s less convenient for a start. Even if it’s in Newry, that’s close enough, which would be a help. But yeah, it’s not nice.”
The Armagh boss says he understands the motivation behind the GAA introducing a motion to prevent county training camps during what is supposed to be the club month of April.
However, McGeeney believes there is a need to look again at the bigger picture regarding the fixtures calendar.
“If they’re really serious, why don’t they just shorten their season? Just separate the two seasons. We only play 12-13 games, max 14.
“It’s hard – everything’s important in the GAA and that’s the way we are. That’s a good thing and a bad thing.
“You have Sigerson and Ryan Cup, you have colleges’ football, then you have the club football league, the club championship, then you’ve the National League… we don’t have a level of importance.
“The club is where we’re from, it’s where we’re going to end up, it’s the cornerstone of our association, there’s no argument from any Gaelic player on that.
“But, you have a small window to play at that elite level and you’re trying to do it, and to compete with the best you have to train at that level.”