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Cregan on Mary I Fitzgibbon appeal - 'No regrets and if it happens again, we’ll do it again'

The ex-Limerick and Offaly boss believes the Fitzgibbon Cup ‘is gone mad’.

Eamon Cregan will stay on as Mary Immaculate College manager.
Eamon Cregan will stay on as Mary Immaculate College manager.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

EAMONN CREGAN INSISTS that he has “no regrets” about Mary Immaculate College’s decision to query the eligibility of IT Carlow player James Gannon – a move that threw the Fitzgibbon Cup into chaos over the past ten days.

Cregan added that if a similar situation arises again, Mary I will act in the same manner, as they still believe that Gannon was ineligible to line out.

He said: “If you’re a full-time worker and going two nights a week to college, you’re not legal to play Fitzgibbon. It’s that simple – that’s what we’re led to believe.”

Cregan, Limerick’s 1973 All-Ireland medallist and former senior team manager, is in charge of the Mary I Fitzgibbon Cup team, and has confirmed that he will remain in the post for next year’s campaign.

And he confirmed: “No regrets and if it happens again, we’ll do it again.

“In Mary I, you can’t be illegal. We can’t bring in people on scholarships like other colleges. They come in based on exam results and they’re all full-time. We don’t have the money to pay for scholarships or anything like that – we pick our teams and go with what we have.”

Mary I, who lost their group game by nine points against IT Carlow, queried the eligibility of Kilkenny man Gannon and that move saw them reinstated in the knockout stages of the competition, with IT Carlow losing out.

James Gannon James Gannon (no. 4) part of the IT Carlow team for Tuesday's Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

But IT Carlow won their place back on appeal and Cregan claims that the involvement of solicitors and a 17-page document submitted to the GAA’s Central Appeals Committee helped their case.

“When you take a situation and get legal people involved, with a 17-page appeal, that’s way over the top as far as I’m concerned. From what I can gather, Carlow had solicitors involved.

“Again, that’s over the top. Carlow won based on 17 pages of an appeal but where’s the sport in that?

“The Fitzgibbon thing is gone mad, with the amount of effort and training that goes into teams. We’re talking about burnout but on Friday you have a semi-final and the following day you turn around and play again.

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“That’s madness. We don’t train that very hard. Our players are training with their counties and we don’t do physical work, it’s all hurling.”

Cregan admitted that the Fitzgibbon saga is now done and dusted from a Mary I perspective but he remains unhappy with how the saga was handled.

“How can you say in one situation that Mary I were correct and IT Carlow thrown out and it goes to somebody else and they change it? There’s a conflict there. We had Niall Moran doing a course last year in Mary I and based on this year’s interpretation of the rules, he could have played with us.

Niall Moran Former Limerick hurler Niall Moran. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“My niece was in Mary I and she could have played camogie with Mary I the year before last, based on the ruling that’s there now. Let’s get it defined and stop trying to find ways and means of getting around the rules. We Irish are great for it – how do we get around that?

“It’s like golf. Golf is an honourable game but played by people who bend the rules. The games of hurling and football are great games but it’s the people who bend the rules who shouldn’t be involved.

“I’m not saying that Carlow did. Carlow have proven on appeal that they didn’t but too many people are getting around the rules.”

DJ Carey IT Carlow boss DJ Carey. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Mary I’s late bid to have Tuesday’s remaining quarter-finals called off failed at the DRA.

And Cregan admitted: “I didn’t expect anything to happen – it was too close to the Fitzgibbon weekend.

“I’m just a little bit disappointed with the whole situation, the way it developed. I thought there were rules with regard to part-time students but it seems that people can look at it and draw anything they like from it.

“The ironic thing was that if Gannon wasn’t playing, IT Carlow still would have beaten us. But the rules are there, to be kept or to be abused.”

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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