GAME OVER Action from the controversial FAI Junior Cup quarter-final between Westport United and Aisling Annacotty back in March. The matter is now ‘closed’ according to Westport United. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
WESTPORT UTD say they consider the issue of their recent FAI Junior Cup appeal against Aisling Annacotty ‘closed’ despite a strongly-worded statement from an official of the Limerick club that was critical of the stance taken by their Mayo opponents.
Director of Football at Aisling Annacotty, Paul Burke, who is also a patron of Westport United, issued a statement to The Mayo News on behalf of the Limerick District League club, stating that he wished to ‘clarify their position’ in relation to the two-month long saga that began after they beat Westport Utd 2-1 in the FAI Junior Cup quarter-final on Sunday, March 10 last.
Westport United lodged an official protest against the Limerick side, claiming that they had fielded an alleged ineligible player in the game at United Park. After the FAI Junior Council dismissed the initial protest, Westport then lodged an official appeal against that decision.
After that was upheld, they decided against taking the decision to arbitration due in part to the €5,000 cost to do so.
Westport Utd did urge the FAI for more ‘clarity’ in relation to the interpretation of their competition rules in the future.
However, Paul Burke of Aisling Annacotty, who is also a former manager of Westport United, highlighted in a statement to The Mayo News that Aisling Annacotty play in the Limerick District League, and said that the player in question, Aaron Murphy, ‘was suspended by the League for two domestic games’ having being sent off in a league game against Ballynanty Rovers.
Mr Burke said that ‘suspension does not carry into competitions run by either the Munster Junior League or the FAI’ and that because this was a game run under ‘the rules of the FAI Competition, Aaron Murphy was eligible to play’.
He said he was unsure of the ‘ambiguity or clarity sought’ by Westport United.
In their appeal, Westport United claimed their player, Darren Browne, was forced to miss a Junior Cup game earlier in the season from serving a one-game suspension handed down by the Mayo League.
Mr Burke said: “Had Mr Murphy been sent off in a FAI competition, then I would expect that he would have been suspended for that competition in line with the FAI Junior Cup competition rules.”
In an e-mail seen by The Mayo News, Turlough McNamara, PRO and Acting Secretary of the Limerick District Management Committee, stated that Aisling Annacotty acted within the local rule and that Aaron Murphy was available for selection against Westport United in their FAI Junior Cup clash.
In relation to Westport United not wanting to risk the €5,000 cost of arbitration, Mr Burke added that ‘it is unfortunate that the €700 fees plus expenses, travel [to Dublin for hearings] etc incurred by both clubs was lost, when perhaps a phone call could have sufficed?’ in relation to the initial protest hearing.
He also expressed his ‘disappointment’ over the ‘animosity’ he claims was shown to the Aisling Annacotty manager, Mike Aherne, after the FAI Junior Cup match in Westport in March.
“Appreciating the disappointment, it was heart warming that Westport United wished the club well having had three players train with the club all season and the strong links that exist between the clubs through the Duffy Cup etc,” said Mr Burke.
“Hopefully the animosity shows towards our manager at the end of the game , when wishing the Westport United players well, was that of disappointment and not a reflection of the great club that is Westport United.”
When contacted by The Mayo News and asked for a response to Mr Burke’s comments, a spokesperson Westport United said: “We have nothing to add regarding the detailed submission which our club was entitled to lodge as part of the FAI process.
“We consider this issue closed and have moved on to concentrating on our new Super League season.”
Meanwhile, in another twist to the story, last Saturday’s FAI Junior Cup final was postponed after Aisling Annacotty lodged a formal protest against their semi-final opponents Sheriff YC.
The final was due to take place in the Aviva Stadium between St Michael’s AFC of Tipperary Town and Dublin outfit Sheriff, but it has been postponed on the decision of the FAI Junior Council Committee.
Sheriff YC defeated Aisling Annacotty 1-0 in the semi-final stages, but the Limerick club lodged a protest last Thursday, leading to the postponement of the final.
It is understood that the protest relates to a player eligibility issue in the semi-final.