“Inconvenience” to patrons regrettable: Dromintee GFC

September 22, 2014

The Executive Committee of Dromintee GFC say they “deeply regret the inconvenience” experienced by patrons who attended the club’s quarter-final county championship match against Crossmaglen Rangers on Friday, when a depleted squad forced them to field several veteran club members to make up a team.

Due to the absence of the majority of the senior players who were attending a wedding, it’s believed the unusual move was a genuine effort by the club’s administration to avoid being penalised should the fixture not have been fulfilled.

The bizarre scenario which unfolded before a sizeable attendance in the Athletic Grounds has been the subject of many reports, both locally and nationally, not least because some of those who lined out were devoid of appropriate sportswear and clearly unprepared for playing a game of football.

Dromintee had reportedly attempted to have the game rescheduled due to the unavailability of players but this request was turned down by the Armagh County Board.  Had the fixture not been fulfilled, the club faced a 24-week ban and a potential fine for failing to give adequate notice.  Faced with no alternative but to field 15 players, the executive committee called on several members who were in attendance to line out in opposition to the current county champions.

The match started and, within minutes, Rangers were ahead, 1-08 to no score.

However, unwilling to carry on with the debacle, managers John McEntee and Oisin McConville called their players aside and embarked on a training session instead, while the Dromintee players kicked the ball between them until the final whistle at the end of the 60 minutes.

At one stage, the ball went out over the end line and Aaron Kernan was called upon by the referee to kick it back into play, before he returned to join his teammates at the other end of the field.

Patrons who attended the game were astounded and many took to social media to express diverse opinions and post photos of the scene before them.

When interviewed on the sideline, a clearly angry Rangers co-manager, John McEntee, said the incident was “an absolute disgrace”.

“They’re great fellas that they would come out and do this for their club but to think that a senior team would embarrass themselves and their community, completely disrespect us and the county football structure as a whole is incredible,” he told a reporter from ArmaghI.

“Had Dromintee not fielded, they would have been suspended for six months. Rather than having their juvenile teams thrown out of the championship or suspended from football for six months, their committee members and a collection of the guys from in and around Dromintee decided to come out and effectively humiliate themselves in front of an audience, which is actually an absolute disgrace,” he added.

In the aftermath, the Armagh County Board issued a statement apologising to patrons: “Armagh County Board would like to apologise to patrons who travelled to the Armagh Athletic Grounds for the scheduled Senior Championship Quarter-Final fixture between Dromintee club and Crossmaglen Rangers.

“The Dromintee Club informed the County Board at approximately 7 p.m. on Friday evening, the evening of the game, that they could only field a much weakened team due to the unavailability of its senior panel.”

A day later Dromintee issued a brief statement: “Dromintee GAC Executive Committee deeply regret the inconvenience caused to patrons attending Senior Championship Quarter-Final against Crossmaglen Rangers in the Athletic Grounds on Friday 19th September.

“We informed the CCC yesterday [Friday] evening at 7pm that we were unable to field a full strength team due to the unavailability of our senior team squad.  We appreciate greatly the effort made by our members who fulfilled the club’s obligation by playing this fixture.”

When contacted by The Examiner, club chairman Colm McCoy would not be drawn on the matter, declaring that there would be “no further comment at this stage”.