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GAA to step in over disallowed county training camps


By Declan Bogue

The GAA will be forced into taking action against a number of counties that have openly defied the training camp ban for inter-county teams.

Armagh returned on Sunday from a warm-weather training camp in Portugal, having left on Thursday. It was a trick they used under Joe Kernan in 2002 that finished with them winning their only All-Ireland, captained then by present manager Kieran McGeeney.

However, the GAA have now stringent laws against the practise, and have a rule in place whereby no team can conduct a training camp unless it is within 10 days of a Championship match.

The punishment for such an offence is to forfeit home advantage for a home game in the following year's National League, a course of action that would hurt a county board financially.

Under the new leadership of President John Horan and Director-General Tom Ryan, there will be an appetite to ensure this punishment is enforceable.

It also had the knock-on effect of disturbing the delicate balance of the 'club-only' month of April, with a number of games called off this weekend in Armagh with players away.

Donegal spent the weekend in Belfast, training at the Queen's University Belfast complex at the Dub.

The link there comes from Queen's Student Recruitment Officer Anthony McGrath, who is a member of Declan Bonner's backroom.

It was reported over the weekend that bystanders who happened upon the county training sessions were instructed to turn their backs on the action on the pitch, in an effort to keep preparations for their May 13 Ulster preliminary round tie with Cavan top-secret.

Tyrone are also due to get away ahead of their Ulster quarter-final clash with Monaghan, their weekend set for the May Bank Holiday weekend, which also falls outside the 10-day rule slot.

Fermanagh are staying local for their training camp, which is being held a week prior to their Armagh game on May 20, by lodging at the Lough Erne Golf Resort.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the GAA Ulster Council are set to raise ticket prices for the upcoming Ulster Championship.

Pre-match day prices for all games up to and including semi-finals will see an adult stand ticket priced at €28 (up from €25) and a terrace ticket priced at €18 (up from €15), while for the Ulster Final an adult stand ticket will cost €35 (up from €30) and a terrace ticket will cost €22 (up from €18). The values in sterling have not been made known yet.

Ulster Council CEO, Brian McAvoy said, "With ticket prices actually lower in 2017 than they were in 2007, an analysis showed that we were out of kilter with the other provinces in terms of our pricing structure.

"In relation to terrace tickets we were almost 40% below that being charged elsewhere."

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