COUNTY Board chairman Liam Moffatt has defended Mayo GAA’s decision to suspend three members of the Mayo senior management backroom team for three months after they gained access to last month’s All-Ireland Football Final without official accreditation.
Moffatt outlined the fact that the three individuals concerned — who have not been named publicly by Mayo GAA — were suspended under Rule 7.2 of the GAA [Misconduct considered to have discredited the Association] at last week’s online County Board meeting, and confirmed that their suspensions ‘apply from the start of the inter-county season’.
After being asked by Breaffy GAA delegate, Jim O’Shea, if a three month ban was ‘the minimum that could have been applied?’, Moffatt clarified that a two-month suspension would have been the minimum ban handed down under Rule 7.2 of the official GAA guide.
“I’m very conscious of what’s going on in terms of the [Covid-19] pandemic in the country at the moment,” replied O’Shea. “I know the names of the three individuals involved hasn’t been put in the public arena, and that’s fine, I’ve no issues…
“But it is in the public arena by means of rumour, at least. . And I’m conscious that, at least some of the names I’ve heard, at least one of them is a current player, with his club.
“So effectively what we’ve done is, we’ve told him that for the first three months of the club season he can’t play any football with his club.
“And we’re doing that simply — and I’m saying this conscious of the pandemic — because he attended a football game. I understand they weren’t accredited members of the attendance on the day but my information is that they were members of the backroom team.
“I just think it’s a very harsh suspension, for three months, in particular when it doesn’t apply until the beginning of the new season. It’s even more harsh for somebody playing football with their clubs.
“I’m just wondering why a minimum suspension wasn’t adjudicated on?”
“The reason why. . Regrettably, Jim, it was quite a serious breach,” responded Liam Moffatt.
“We’ve all had to deal with the fact that we couldn’t get into games during the year, it was very frustrating for people, particularly those members of the backroom team who had contributed to Mayo getting to the final, as you know.
“But in terms of the sanction, no exact sanction existed in terms of that breach, but when we did look into it more, it did bring the Association into disrepute.
“You have your opinion, and I respect that, other people feel that the suspension was too lenient. So to be quite honest, you’re trying to find a measured and informed response.
“Certainly, the regrettable incident did merit a sanction of some sort.
“We felt that this was an appropriate sanction given the seriousness of what happened.”
Kilmaine GAA delegate, Kevin McDonnell, then asked, “Were there any other parties involved in smuggling them in? And if that is the case have they been dealt with accordingly? Or is it simply that they got in themselves?”
Liam Moffatt replied: “They were asked that in the review, and the three individuals confirmed that they took total responsibility for getting access to the game themselves.
“They were asked, and I know it’s no consolation, but there was huge regret and remorse on behalf of the three guys. And it was borne out of pure and utter frustration.
“They could see that significant others were gaining entry and that they couldn’t, all three of them were devastated over it.”
Kevin McDonnell said he agreed that disciplinary action had to be taken, and added that he felt ‘that the punishment does fit the issue’.