LONDON football captain Sean McVeigh has lashed out at GAA officials for their decision to retain a rule that could see the Exiles lose 12 players for their Connacht Championship clash with Leitrim next month.
“It’s an absolute disgrace that it has come to this,” McVeigh told The Irish Post. “I think the problem is that the big-wigs in the GAA don’t care about football outside of Croke Park. That’s what it comes down to. We’re far out of sight for them so they’re not worried about us.
“We’ve put in a serious amount of work as a panel this year. I’m still training away with the Leitrim game in mind, but it’ll be an absolute disgrace if we’re not allowed to play.
“We’ve been making great strides so it would be a complete disaster for London football. It will destroy it.”
A new law was introduced at GAA Congress which says that players who want to play for a county team must first play championship for a club in that county in the current or previous season.
McVeigh says the new rule would impact on 12 members of the London panel, including the Antrim native himself, former Longford defender Seamus Hannon and ex-Fermanagh player Peter Sherry.
Despite being in Britain for the past three years, McVeigh’s place is in doubt as the 27-year-old has returned home each year to play championship for his club All Saints Ballymena.
The rule was brought in at last month’s Congress in response to the controversy that surrounded Seanie Johnston’s proposed transfer from Cavan to Kildare.
Based on London’s exceptional circumstances, the County Board applied to Croke Park for deviation under the rule, but this appeal had to be withdrawn at last weekend’s Central Council meeting as the rule doesn’t come into effect until May 14. Deviation under a rule cannot be requested until a rule is officially introduced.
Instead, an alteration was made to the rule which means it will only apply to Tier One counties (those who compete in the Liam McCarthy Cup in hurling and Sam Maguire Cup in football) until January 1, 2013.
This gives an exemption to the London and Warwickshire hurlers for 2012, but it leaves the fate of the London footballers this summer in the hands of the clubs.
An emergency County Board meeting has been called for tonight (Wednesday) at Ruislip, when a proposal will be put forward to play the first round of club championship games on May 19/20l.
If clubs vote in favour of the proposal, it should solve the problem for manager Paul Coggins and his players by offering them a chance to confirm their eligibility for London just a fortnight before the crucial meeting with Leitrim at Ruislip on June 3.
McVeigh added: “I’m sure there’ll be some opposition from the clubs and I agree with them too, but the problem is that the GAA obviously just don’t care about the game overseas.
“As captain of London I’ll do whatever it takes to play for London. If I have to play championship for Parnells, I will.
“I think the GAA should see sense and get rid of the rule for next year because it’s a silly, silly rule.”