THE LONDON football panel released a hard-hitting statement last night, claiming that men like Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy would be ashamed of what the GAA has become.
Exiles players want the GAA to grant a deviation to London under the ‘Seanie Johnston rule’, which was introduced last month at Congress.
The statement, which has the backing of the Gaelic Players Association, and was released exclusively to The Irish Post last evening. It reads:
“London footballers fiercely oppose the new draconian law, which will come into force on May 14, and are planning to launch an appeal and hope the GAA use their common sense in having a deviation of the motion for London. The new rule doesn’t promote Gaelic games overseas, one of the main aims of the association, and is therefore intrinsically wrong.
“Due to the current economic situation in Ireland, it is no coincidence that immigration to London has increased, forcing many young people, like ourselves, to seek employment overseas. This has invariably been the case for many Irish people since the inception of our great Association, namely John McKay, one of the GAA’s founders; Sam Maguire, former captain of London footballers and eponym of the Sam Maguire Cup; and Liam MacCarthy, former vice-chairman of the London County Board and eponym of the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
“We’ve been in the gym, training and flying back and forth to Ireland since November 2011, and to be told five weeks before the championship that over a dozen of our teammates, including our captain, aren’t allowed to play is disgraceful and we dare say the men mentioned above would be ashamed that the GAA has fallen to such depths.
“As a panel, we’ve decided we are committed to the London county team and to playing club football in London. Like the vast majority of young Irish people over here, we all had aspirations to be living in Ireland, to play football with our mates, to have a job, to get married and to raise our kids in Ireland. Sometimes it’s hard to let these aspirations go.
“London has provided all of us young Irish people with jobs and a place where we can play our national pastimes at junior club level right up to senior county, and we are all aware of how lucky we are and the special place we are in. We just wish the GAA could recognise this.
“We, as a London football panel, would like to thank our clubs and indeed all the clubs in London for their recent vote in bringing forward the London Senior Football Championship to allow 12-plus players to play in this year’s Connacht Championship.
“It was an impossible position we’ve put the clubs in, allowing just two weeks for preparations, which will in turn take away from the county team’s preparations, an extremely tough but necessary decision for both parties.
“We are all proud to be members of our clubs after they voted unanimously in favour of backing the county team. Our only hope is that Croke Park can take a leaf out of London GAA’s common sense book and agree with the London players when we say we fiercely oppose the new law.”
The ‘Seanie Johnston Rule’ states that a player who wishes to play for a county team must first play championship for a club in that county in the current or previous season.
Consequently, London were on course to lose 12 members of their panel for the Connacht SFC clash with Leitrim on June 3, but that situation has been avoided after a proposal to bring the first round of club championship games forward from July to May 26/27 was passed unanimously at an emergency County Board meeting on Wednesday.