Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Nemo say ‘not guilty’ as GAA launch probe into Ireland rugby session

The GAA are expected to seek clarification from the Nemo Rangers club in Cork after Declan Kidney's team trained at their home venue yesterday.

The GAA's rule-book bars all clubs from allowing rugby or soccer to use their property, even though the reverse — other sports allowing GAA teams to use their facilities — is a regular occurrence, even at inter-county level.

Under the GAA's Rule 5.1, clubs who allow rugby or soccer clubs to use their facilities, including halls and dressing rooms, are liable to automatic suspension.

It was because of that that a much-publicised special derogation was needed to allow rugby and soccer to be played in Croke Park, a highly contentious decision in some of the GAA's more traditional circles.

The rule states that “All property including grounds, club houses, halls, dressing rooms and handball alleys owned or controlled by units of the Association shall be used only for the purpose of, or in connection with, the playing of the Games controlled by the Association and for such other purposes not in conflict with the aims and objects (sic) of the Association, that may be sanctioned from time to time by the Central Council.”

A Nemo Rangers spokesman clarified yesterday that the rugby team only trained indoors at the 'Trabeg Sports Centre' which he described as “a separate commercial operator attached” to Nemo Rangers.

“The rugby team wasn't anywhere near the GAA pitches or the side of the complex vested in the GAA,” he said.

He added that such a visit was not unprecedented because the Munster rugby team and their academy have been using the Trabeg Sports Centre for training for several seasons.

When the Irish team's original training ground in Cork was frozen off yesterday, they moved to train at the indoor facility within Nemo Rangers' grounds.

The sight of the rugby team training in a facility that GAA fans so readily identify with Munster football kingpins Nemo Rangers will inevitably raise the hackles of hardliners and fuel some debate, especially as the issue of keeping Croke Park open to other sports is due to be discussed again at this year's Congress.

Famous Cork city club Nemo Rangers was one of sport's biggest beneficiaries in the Celtic Tiger boom.

The sale of their previous grounds on the South Douglas Road allowed Nemo to move to a new site at the South Ring Road in 2006 and develop a high-spec club facility which is widely regarded as one of the best around in Irish sport and includes the top indoor hurling facility in the country.