The GAA clubs at Queen’s University welcome the decision of the Central Appeals Committee to uphold their appeal on the eligibility of Sigerson Cup players Ciaron O’Hanlon, Tony Donnelly and Greg McCabe.
At the third attempt, Queen’s Gaelic Football Club finally had an opportunity to deal with this matter through the GAA’s appeals procedure and the decision reaffirms the 2012 ruling by CAC which had deemed Stranmillis students eligible to play for University.
It is important to note that, contrary to some reports, this ruling does not have widespread implications in our sector, as it is the exact same decision that was handed down by CAC three years ago. Even then, it was made clear that the ruling only related to this unique case. The relevant rule has existed for over ten years and has served the sector well.
Queen’s had lodged an objection to the participation of the IT Sligo Students Union President in the recent Sigerson Cup game, on the grounds that in 2011, the Higher Education GAA sector had decided to remove the rule allowing a sabbatical officer to play and that was clearly on the unanimous agreement that sabbatical officers were no longer eligible to play.
We also wanted to deal with the matter of the students from Stranmillis. They are an important part of the GAA family at Queen’s and we were not prepared to deny them the right to access Gaelic Games and GAA development opportunities at the university. Last night’s ruling vindicates the club and the players involved. Students at Stranmillis have the same rights and privileges as all other students at Queen’s.
Our motivation behind these actions was not to halt the competition and regain our place. As well as seeking out a means of dealing with the case of the Stranmillis players, we primarily felt that we needed to take a stand on eligibility issues that exist within our sector. We believe the Sigerson Cup to be a great competition and we want it to thrive. Radical change is not required – Comhairle Ardoideachais simply need to address the issues that exist and to ensure that everyone plays by the same rules. We believe that most other colleges feel exactly the same as we do on the matter.
We wish all remaining teams well in the Sigerson Cup and we extend our best wishes to the UCC club who will act as hosts for finals weekend.