Down and Cork await fate after training investigation concludes
DOWN and Cork are still awaiting official word about potential sanctions for alleged training breaches, with both counties facing the possibility of being stripped of home advantage in the National League.
Investigations into a breach of training guidelines earlier this month have now concluded, with notice of recommendations from a sub-committee of the GAA’s management committee expected imminently.
When contacted yesterday, Down County Board chairman Jack Devaney said no official correspondence had been received, while a GAA spokesperson insisted no sanctions had been handed down “as of yet”.
At the beginning of January a letter from Ard Stiurthoir Tom Ryan outlined that counties found to be in breach of their regulations, which forbid inter-county teams from any indoor or outdoor gathering until at least the end of January, “will be dealt with under rule 7.2 (e) Misconduct considered to have discredited the association”.
The penalty for any breach of this rule is a minimum eight-week suspension for the team or unit in question or, where appropriate, a fine, disqualification or expulsion from the Association.
It is also understood that Down and Cork have been investigated under rule 6.45, covering collective training outside of the window determined by the GAA.
Punishment under this rule is a forfeiture of home advantage for one League fixture, though fines are also expected to be recommended.
This year’s truncated National League sees counties split into regional sub-divisions of four teams. No fixtures schedules have been drawn up as yet, amid the ongoing uncertainty surrounding possible return to training and League start dates, but some will see counties handed two away matches.
Should that be the case for Down and Cork, all their games could end up being on the road if their third was moved to a neutral venue.
Both counties were promoted from Division Three last year, and Down are in a group with Mayo, Meath and Westmeath while the Rebels take on Clare, Kildare and Laois.
Down chairman Devaney denied that a training session had taken place on January 5 after police were called following a report from the public of people “playing on the pitches” at Abbey CBS in Newry.
Having established that “no breaches of regulations had taken place as it was an elite team”, the officers left.
Devaney said that “around 18” players, including some new call-ups, had been present in two separate groups, where they were given programmes to follow in preparation for the resumption of collective training.
He added that Down had “adhered to the directives from the GAA and we will continue to do so”.
Cork, meanwhile, found themselves in bother after footage emerged of its football panel at Youghal beach on the first weekend of the month. Rebels boss Ronan McCarthy confirmed that the panel did convene but insisted they were compliant with public health and Association guidelines “at all times”.
Part of the mitigation for both is also believed to centre around these gatherings taking place on non-GAA property. Counties can request a hearing once informed of any proposed sanctions.