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Schoolboy football chief criticises controversial rule change which sees Dublin club kicked out

Kilnamanagh FC’s U15s Premier side were banned from seeing out the season after playing an ineligible player.

The Kilnamanagh U15s team.
The Kilnamanagh U15s team.
Image: Facebook

THE SECRETARY OF the Dublin District Schoolboy League (DDSL) has criticised a ruling by the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI) which resulted in a team being booted out of their league.

Tallaght-based Kilnamanagh FC believe they were treated extremely harshly after being informed that their U15s Premier team would be banned from competing for the remainder of the season.

They were deemed to have played an ineligible player under a rule which was brought in during last year’s SFAI Annual General Meeting. It was decided by those present that players had to live within 49kms from their club in order to stop a drain of talent from small rural outfits to bigger established sides.

The boy in question, who lives in Kildare, had been brought to Kilnamanagh by his father last summer having previously played in his native county.

Before signing him, Kilnamanagh ran it by the Kildare League but, seven months later, a complaint was lodged with the DDSL. Oddly, the claim that the recently-approved rule was broken is believed to have been made by a former Kilnamanagh member who now resides in Kildare.

DDSL secretary Fran Ray explains that he notified all the clubs about the rule change, which he says was brought in when none of the Dublin sides turned up to the AGM in Cork.

“I don’t agree with the rule,” Ray told TheScore.ie today. “I notified all our clubs of the rule change and the consequences after none of them turned up to the meeting.

“It was changed due to a lad living in Cork signing for Crumlin United. While it (the meeting) was going on, the Dublin people were sitting in the pub having their pints while the culchies caught them on the hop.”

The DDSL were forced to ban Kilnamanagh, who were at the time sitting bottom of the table, with immediate effect last month. They then aided their appeal to the SFAI and sought a fine or a points deduction, which they felt would have been more reasonable, but it was upheld.

“It’s unfortunate for Kilnamanagh but we tried to help them and even paid for a solicitor. We were threatened by the SFAI to see it through and they told us there would have been repercussions.

“Personally, I don’t think it is any business of the SFAI. It was two of our clubs playing against each other. If it had been in one of the SFAI cups, it would have been a different story.”

Speaking this afternoon, Kilnamanagh schoolboy secretary Donal Harmon said: “We were under the impression that it only applied in the SFAI meaning we couldn’t play him in the cup games.”

How the DDSL U15 Premier league table looks. Credit: Scoreweek.com

They are certainly not the only club to have breached the law but are the first to be punished.

“Kilnamanagh are unlucky,” added Ray. “They’re the only ones to have been hit with it at the moment but there are quite a few other clubs in the wrong too.

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“The whole thing is organised wrongly. The SFAI chairman said to us: ‘Let the men with the wigs sort it out’. You can’t tell me that’s the way to sort out schoolboy football. All the kids want, all the parents want and all we in the DDSL want is for them to play.”

For now, the team has been left without competitive football until August. Efforts were made to keep it intact and play friendlies over the next couple of months but with the boys’ parents all decided that they would depart for rivals sides as the DDSL permitted it.

Manager Paul Murray, meanwhile, left for Shelbourne with his son.

“Paul had them since they were U7s and it took us seven years to get up to Premier,” says Harmon. “It’s an awful shame as they’re a good shower of lads.

“I’m sick about the whole thing. We were fighting against a brick wall. Fine the club and the two managers or the even the secretary but don’t punish a group of teenagers for the mistake.”

A Facebook page has been set up to help right what they call an “unbelievable injustice”

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Ben Blake

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