ONE of the primary reasons why Éire Óg has withdrawn from the Clare Intermediate Football Championship is because the club has adopted a policy of not fielding players who are not registered members. Éire Óg were due to play Clarecastle last Sunday evening in Round 1 of the intermediate championship but they did not fulfil that fixture. They also withdrew from the Division 3 football league earlier this season.
“The decision we made was based on two factors. One was the numbers we had and the other factor was membership. We are not allowing any team to take the field unless they are all fully paid members. That’s where we stand,” Éire Óg club secretary Paddy Smyth told The Clare Champion.
He cited an instance where a senior club hurler was told he would be dropped from the club’s championship team, unless he paid his membership.
“We want everyone to be paid up members for insurance reasons. If there is a problem and someone makes an insurance claim, we want to be working within the boundaries.
“Our senior hurling team was picked and in the first 15, there was one individual who wasn’t a paid-up member. We told the management, who went to the player and said his selection was subject to him paying membership and his membership was duly paid. That was before the first round of the championship.
“People might think we’re being crude but we see it as a positive step. You have to have your house in order. We don’t want a situation where a guy gets injured and we find out that he’s not a paid-up member,” he added.
Some clubs opt to pay the membership of their players and later recoup it but Smyth doesn’t think that’s a viable option.
“Legally, that’s a bad move. We’re trying to be totally above board in how we run our club. Maybe people might think we’re being a bit over the top but that’s where we’re going,” he stressed.
The withdrawal of Éire Óg’s intermediate football team means that the club is fielding just one adult football team for 2016, when clubs of much smaller populations field two. However, Paddy Smyth insists that the playing population available to Éire Óg is not that sizeable.
“People constantly go on about the size of the town of Ennis. I was born and raised in Carmody Street. If I went to my mother’s house in Carmody Street, I’d walk a nice while before I’d find a fella that’s playing. The centre of the town is obsolete as far as players are concerned.
“If you look at the Tulla Road, once you come to the bridge in Roslevan, that’s in the parish of Barefield. What you are beginning to see coming back in a very, very small way are traditional [GAA] areas, like Hermitage and Turnpike. What we’re trying to do is get our act together and get everybody on board,” he said.
Smyth accepts that Éire Óg’s decision will not be a popular one but insists that it’s the right move.
“It might be a painful process but you have to take the first step. We feel that if we make the hard call, we’ll get more respect within the club and more respect for the club. What you have then are people that want to be part of it, rather than people that are using it. You might say we’re on the high moral ground here but, as a club, your systems and membership have to be right. If that’s not right, you’re running into trouble straight away,” he said.
By Peter O’Connell