By Kieran Murphy
LIAM Forde, chairman of Old Leighlin ladies football, has confirmed the club has appealed the decision of the Leinster Ladies Gaelic Football Association to prevent Old Leighlin from taking their place in the Leinster club junior football championship final which was scheduled to take place this Saturday in Ashbourne.
Old Leighlin, last year’s provincial junior club champions, had already beaten Moate and Kilcock in the opening two rounds of the Leinster championship and after seeing off the challenge of Grattans of Longford on Saturday 12 October by 6-7 to 3-5, they were set to take on Navan O’Mahony’s in the final.
After losing their semi-final, Grattans lodged an objection citing a rule which says clubs who win the junior and intermediate provincial championships must move up a grade the following year. In their defence, Old Leighlin stated they had asked that question last year but were told they would be remaining where they were in the junior championship.
In a further twist to the situation, Leinster then hastily reinstated the two sides, Moate and Kilcock, who Old Leighlin had already beaten. The two clubs played a rescheduled quarter-final last Saturday with Kilcock winning by 1-6 to 0-6. They will take on Grattans tonight (Tuesday) in a semi-final with the winners then going forward to play Navan on Saturday.
The Old Leighlin chairman said they had heard whispers on the day they played their semi-final away to Grattan that something was afoot.
“We heard rumours and rumblings even during the match. Then Grattan had it up on their Facebook page that their journey in Leinster might not be over.
“That was Tuesday. On Wednesday night we got a phone call from Dominic Leech, President of Leinster ladies GAA. He informed our secretary that they had an emergency management meeting and they were following some complaint and were invoking rule 222 that any club who wins a junior or intermediate title must move up a grade,” explained Forde.
Leech informed Forde that he was making a courteousy call and Old Leighlin would be getting official notice the following day. Forde was unhappy with the wording of the communication they subsequently received.
“Our official notice was a copy of what Leinster had put on their website. In effect it was up on the Leinster website. Grattan and Kilcock were informed they were back in the championship and that all happened before we got official word.”
The re-fixed Leinster championship means Old Leighlin had to move quickly and they submitted an appeal immediately.
“We e-mailed Leinster with a formal list of our complaints and informed them we will be putting in a formal appeal.”
After they won the Leinster junior championship in 2018, Forde is adamant Old Leighlin asked Leinster officials which grade the Carlow champions would play in 2019.
“We were told we would be junior for 2019. There is a precedent in 2016 where Naomh Ciaran from Offaly won the intermediate championship in 2016 and competed again at intermediate in 2017 and 2018. They are now in the 2019 final having won it in 2016 and have never been promoted to senior,” noted Forde who went on to say there was plenty of time to spot any potential problems but nobody raised any concern at the time with Old Leighlin taking their place in the junior championship.
“The fixtures for the club championship were made in the spring. So effectively they told us we were in junior and they fixed the matches.
The statement issued by Leinster suggests we entered the wrong competition. That is obviously false. We didn’t get a chance to enter a competition. We were put in that competition by Leinster,” explained Forde.
“To say we were accepted would suggest we applied. That is not the case. We asked the question and we were told that is where we were put.”
Forde referred to part of the statement which is still on the Leinster GAA website.
“Old Leighlin have been incorrectly accepted into and participated in the 2019 Leinster Junior Club Championship, despite having won the 2018 Leinster Junior Club Championship.”
He says Old Leighlin will not take this lying down.
“We are going to appeal that. If we lose that appeal and it stands we are not entitled to be in the Leinster junior championship. We are then going to have to ask why we were not put into the intermediate,” he said.
He is scathing in his criticism of the ruling body which runs ladies football in the province.
“A part of our line here is that Leinster caused it and they are trying to push it under the table and blame somebody else. There is no culpability at all.
“They have re-fixed a junior championship to accommodate three clubs who were defeated and have done nothing to accommodate us. That suggests we asked to go into the junior which is not the case.”
Meanwhile, Leinster LGFA president Dominic Leech confirmed Old Leighlin have filed an objection but he was unable to say when the appeal will be heard.