13 April 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Michael McDonnell

The Monaghan GAA County Board yesterday issued a detailed statement to The Northern Standard outlining its position on the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of the county’s senior hurling panel from next Sunday’s Allianz Hurling Division 3A final in the wake of the team manager Mattie Lennon’s decision to resign last Friday.
In an unseemly dispute over club fixtures that has been played out on the national airwaves and highlighted in columns of the daily newspapers, the ex-hurling boss Mr Lennon accused the County Board members of “lacking common sense”, and of preferring to “hide behind rules and regulations” than be serious about hurling.
The issue arose after the County Board refused to postpone club fixtures scheduled for last night (Wednesday) that affected what Mr Lennon said was between eight and ten players on the hurling squad. Most of these were first team players, he stated (see StandardSport and interview on page 47), adding: “I genuinely believe that it was a reasonable request to have a free week prior to a national final”.
It now looks very unlikely that the hurling team will participate in this year’s Nicky Rackard Cup all-Ireland matches, which were to have taken place between 5th May and 9th June.
In the statement issued yesterday, the Monaghan County Board claims that Mr Lennon had threatened to resign from his post if any club football fixtures involving the hurlers went ahead in the seven-day period leading up to Sunday’s hurling final against Fingal.
The board states that some clubs had been attempting to re-arrange fixtures from last night back to Easter Monday night, but that these efforts had been “obstructed” by Mr Lennon when he told the County Hurling Officer to discontinue his discussions with the relevant clubs.
“This matter could have been resolved within the current regulations had the games proceeded on Monday 9th April, giving the hurlers a six -day break rather than the seven-day break requested by the then county hurling manager,” the County Board adds.
The statement also argues that when the club fixtures plan was drawn up it had taken into account the requests of clubs to have no games on public holiday weekends, to have a closed period in early August, and to eliminate league matches in which county players could not participate.
This had led to a situation where there was “minimal flexibility and minimal free dates remaining available for any fixture changes” in terms of the plan, which had been agreed by all county team managers when it was put in place in November and December. County team managers appointed after this time (Mr Lennon took up his position with the hurling team in December) would also have been aware of the fixture programme, the statement contends.
The County Board goes on to argue that if all requests from the County Hurling Manager had been granted, “more than 35% of Club Fixtures in the Intermediate Football League in Monaghan would have been lost and more than 65% of Club Fixtures …

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