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Seamus McEnaney suspended after Monaghan latest to breach rules


Cold shoulder: Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney has been banned for 12 weeks

Cold shoulder: Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney has been banned for 12 weeks

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Larry McCarthy

Larry McCarthy

�INPHO/Tom O'Hanlon


Cold shoulder: Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney has been banned for 12 weeks

As if the sinister pandemic has not been providing the GAA authorities with enough headaches on an ongoing basis, the breaching of the stringent restrictions governing collective inter-county training by a fourth team has now created considerable embarrassment, hurt and anger.

With Down, Cork and Dublin having already incurred the wrath of Croke Park chiefs for throwing caution to the wind and participating in illicit on-field activity, Monaghan's wrongdoing only served to add insult to injury within the biggest sporting body on the island.

Indeed, the Oriel County's transgression has been compounded on not one but two fronts. In the immediate aftermath of the disciplinary action taken by the Dublin county board against team manager Dessie Farrell, GAA President Larry McCarthy warned that if another team were to breach the collective training protocol before the accepted date of April 19, then this would make things "very, very difficult".

And with Monaghan chairman Declan Flanagan, a man who has given great service to his county and the Ulster Council, having denied that there had been a breach, this was seen to add fuel to the flames.

The Monaghan county board reacted even more quickly than their Dublin counterparts did by handing out a 12-week suspension to their ebullient manager Seamus McEnaney, a man who lives, sleeps, eats and drinks Monaghan football. Indeed, he is in his second term in charge, which hints at his commitment to the county he loves.

For his part, he too lost no time on this difficult occasion in holding his hands up and admitting that a wrong had been done which impacted heavily on the county's reputation.

While it was generally thought that Dublin's dawn training session had drawn the curtain on breaches of the collective training restrictions, the fact that a further county had sinned was initially scarcely credible.

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Last year, Monaghan made an inglorious exit from the Ulster Championship in losing to a then unfancied Cavan in the preliminary round and had subsequently resolved to embark on a recovery mission this year.

They will link up with Donegal, Armagh and Tyrone in Division One North of the Allianz League in what many people already perceive as a 'mini' Ulster Championship, and the fall-out from the controversy surrounding the squad's untimely collective training session could well deflect from what they still hope will prove a renaissance.

Both GAA President McCarthy and Director-General Tom Ryan in particular are known to be deeply disappointed by what is alleged to have taken place, the publicity surrounding the occurrence tending to overshadow yesterday's competitions launch, which brought an end to a lot of uncertainty which had prevailed for some time.

County squads are due to return to collective action on April 19 and will have a four-week lead-in period to the start of competitive fixtures in mid-May.

While it had been hoped that there would be a smooth transition from solo training to squad action, the distractions imposed by what took place in Cork, Down, Dublin and Monaghan have tended to overshadow the diligent - and entirely legal - behind-the-scenes preparations for the new term throughout the greater part of the island.

With all teams destined to play at least four league games, including either a promotion or relegation tie, and perhaps a sizeable number likely to be limited to one Championship tie at provincial level on the heels of the league, the season as such for some could prove extremely limited.

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