Players blame “contemptuous” treatment by CCC for failure to field

September 29, 2014

Following on from last weekend’s Armagh county senior championship match between Dromintee and Crossmaglen Rangers, the Dromintee senior players issued a statement explaining why they failed to play the game.

The Examiner carried the story in last week’s edition how a team of ‘veteran’ club members represented the club in the quarter final game after the regular players chose to attend a wedding instead.  Later on Monday, in response to the high level of media attention the incident attracted, the Dromintee senior squad issued a statement outlining the circumstances of the matter.  Accusing the Armagh Competitions Control Committee (CCC) of having been “unfair and disrespectful” to the club, the players said their efforts to resolve difficulties surrounding the fixture were “met with a brick wall” and their decision not to play “was not taken lightly”.

Having spoken with the club chairman and two other committee members, the players said they had decided two days ahead of the fixture that they would not play due to the absence of two key players who were part of the bridal party, and nine other squad members closely associated with the wedding.  The County Board was subsequently informed of this decision.

Protracted efforts to have the game rescheduled were rejected and, in the wake of decisions imposed on the club by the CCC earlier in the championship, the players – on the principle of “togetherness and unity” – collectively chose to not to field.

They acknowledged the efforts made by their club colleagues to fulfill, the fixture in an attempt to avoid a suspension, but said its “contemptuous” treatment by the CCC placed the club “in a very difficult position”.

The statement said that earlier in the summer, the Dromintee players had twice agreed to postpone one of their championship matches to accommodate a dual player in the opposing team.

“In the interest of the player and fairness, we were happy to comply despite this resulting in several players having to cancel pre-arranged holidays.  Our only stipulation was that the eventual fixture would avoid a particular Friday evening so that a number of our younger players could attend an important school function.  This request was ultimately ignored by the CCC and we fielded minus three players.

“Having come through our final qualifier, we were then faced with the prospect six days later of a direct clash with a family wedding within the team that included two brothers in the bridal party and nine players most very closely acquainted with the groom and family circle.

“Representations were made to the Armagh CCC after our first-round qualifier to avoid a clash before provisional fixtures were set in stone.  Any possible date, bar the one chosen, would have met our request under both the spirit and rules of the Association. No accommodation was made.

“Several efforts were made in the following days to ask the CCC to help us but we met with a brick wall on each occasion. An agreement could not be made with our opposition at this late stage as they had made player travel and holiday arrangements around the original fixture.

“The rules and guides set out for the CCC in Armagh have been very loosely applied and certainly not to suit Dromintee GAC.  Like every club team in the country we have spent many months preparing together for this championship campaign, wear the Dromintee jersey with great pride and did not arrive at this decision lightly. Having been treated so contemptuously by the Armagh CCC, we preferred to support the two central players fielding would have deprived us. Our progress through the championship has been marked by togetherness and unity and we chose to stand by the same principle we had played with.

“The club had been placed in a very difficult position and we understand the steps the committee took to preserve our status and to protect the other teams in the club. They were unfortunately forced into this action as a response to the possibility of some very heavy sanctions being imposed.  As a small rural club, and with the restriction of our junior players being unable to play due to next year’s championship commitments, the community rallied so that we would be able to at least field in this fixture.

“In the aftermath we were both heartened that so many members from surrounding clubs contacted us to sympathise our plight and, equally, disheartened that our integrity was called into question before the full facts were established.”