Croker halts London hurling club’s attempt to expel Irish Guards team

Croker halts London hurling club’s attempt to expel Irish Guards team
20 November 2015; Ard Stiúrthóir of the GAA Páraic DuffyPicture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Croke Park intervened to halt Monday night’s attempt by a London hurling club to rescind the invitation to the Hounslow-based Irish Guards to field a team for GAA London county fixtures.

The original decision last autumn, carried by the then chairman’s casting vote, was hailed as yet another progressive and conciliatory move by the GAA.

But a number of individuals and the Granuaile hurling club want the original vote overturned and the team kicked out.

Normally events in London GAA attract little interest in Dublin but the story was picked up by the Irish Daily Mail and generated further interest.

GAA Director General Paraic Duffy wrote to the London county board and asked it to defer any further discussions – which Granuaile had sought to have on Monday night – about the future of the Irish Guards.

Croker halts London hurling club’s attempt to expel Irish Guards team
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail, who is a frequent visitor to, and supporter of, London GAA, said: “We’ve close to 2,000 clubs.

“If we accept a club into our association, having done that, then it shouldn’t be so simple to just remove them.

“We have discussed it and the Ard Stiúrthóir has written to the London board not to make decisions in that fashion, to hold on this and wait until we have time to discuss it and its implications for the whole association.”

Coiste Bainistí, the GAA’s management committee, will discuss the matter on Friday night before advising London on how to proceed.

Recently elected County Board chairman John Lacey, whose club is Granuaile and who had reservations about admitting the Irish Guards for various non-political and non-ideological reasons, is walking a diplomatic tight rope as he balances all interests in the matter.

Opponents to the admission of the Irish Guards range from those who openly profess hostility to Britain and the British – despite living here – and a dated, negative “Irish Republicanism” that even Sinn Fein as discarded – to those who say they fear the team will attract terrorist attacks, endangering others, to those who say there are already too few teams to meet fixture commitments and the players should join existing teams.

Noel O’Sullivan, who was chairman of the London county board when it voted to accept the Guards swung the decision on the night by using his casting vote to break a deadlock.
His action enabled the team to play in the London club championship this year.

He said he was “absolutely disgusted” at attempts to put it to a second vote.

“I felt last September that there was no need of a vote because I can’t think why a person’s occupation should come in to you playing Gaelic football or hurling.

“All it is doing as far as I’m concerned is damaging the image of the London county board. The majority of GAA people in London are totally and utterly for,” he told the BBC.


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