Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Woods slams fines as Cavan pay penalty

Fine mess: Cavan have been fined €5,000 for their part in this brawl, with Fermanagh awaiting their punishment tonight

Progress in the All-Ireland football and hurling championships can often come at a heavy price.

Tomorrow night Fermanagh will become the latest county to learn if they will have to part with €5,000 (£4,340) following the unsavoury incidents that marred their qualifier tie against Cavan on July 13.

The Fermanagh county board has sought a hearing in relation to the fine and this will take place at Croke Park.

While the Erne county still cling to the hope that they can escape the financial penalty, Cavan's appeal against a similar sanction arising from the game has already been turned down.

And this has served to focus the spotlight on those counties still in the race for the Sam Maguire Cup.

On more than one occasion in the recent past GAA chiefs have warned county boards, many of whom are in dire financial straits, to practice "good husbandry."

But the imposition of heavy fines on boards rather than highlighting the part played by individuals in unsavoury incidents and imposing fines on them smacks of taking the easy way out.

A collective financial penalty may be viewed by the Croke Park authorities as a warning, but it nonetheless invariably imposes considerable stress on already limited resources.

Cavan PRO Declan Woods, in a straight from the shoulder broadside, warns that counties still in the All-Ireland race could be liable for financial penalties.

"We recognise the authority which the Central Competitions Control Committee has to impose fines on county boards, but penalties of €5,000 are excessive in the present economic climate," states Woods, one of Ulster's leading officials.

"Any side such as ourselves which is making headway in the Championship does so at a huge cost in terms of training, travel, accommodation, medical bills and a hundred and one other things and to be then landed with huge fines makes the burden all the heavier.

"However, we have to accept that our appeal against the imposition of the fine failed."

Woods reveals that in many counties the payment of "exorbitant fines" means that there is less money for the day-to-day running of the GAA at grassroots level.

"It actually means that less resources are available to be put into coaching and preparing under-age sides and for producing essential facilities," said Woods.

"It is well-known that over the course of the championship season counties are regularly fined sums like €100 or €200 for offences such as water carriers encroaching onto the field of play or players not having their socks up in a pre-match parade, but all boards have learned to live with this.

"It's the really punitive penalties for offences which are more of an individual nature than anything else which are a lot harder to stomach."

Longford and Wexford have also been handed down €5,000 fines following the fracas that marred their All-Ireland qualifier earlier this month and it is understood that both counties, who are now out of the All-Ireland race, will be appealing the sanctions.

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