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comment What are the chances of managers obeying rules in normal times if they don’t feel morally obliged to follow them in a pandemic?

Monaghan GAA Board acknowledge in a short statement that the regulations had been broken

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Séamus McEnaney has been slapped with a 12-week ban

Séamus McEnaney has been slapped with a 12-week ban

Séamus McEnaney has been slapped with a 12-week ban

Monaghan GAA have slapped a 12-week ban on their football manager Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney while acknowledging there was a breach of Covid-19 regulations in the county.

Their quick-fire reaction comes in the wake of revelations in today’s Irish Independent that they had photographic and video footage of a training session purportedly involving Monaghan senior footballers and overseen by members of their management team.

The footage appeared to show a large gathering took place at Corduff GAA club on the last weekend in March.

The video and photographic evidence was also sent to Croke Park and to the Department of Justice, who passed it on the Garda authorities while the GAA said they would be carrying out its own investigation.

But in a pre-emptive strike this afternoon, the Monaghan GAA Board acknowledged in a short statement that the regulations had been broken.

‘Resulting from an internal investigation, our senior team manager, Seamus McEnaney, has admitted that this was a serious error of judgment and apologises unreservedly for the indiscretion.

'The County Management Committee have suspended the Monaghan GAA Senior Football manager, Seamus McEnaney, for 12 weeks with immediate effect and will fully cooperate and comply with any Croke Park investigation,” the statement concluded.

This is the second breach of the ban on inter-county training in a week and the fourth this year.

Last Thursday, the Dublin GAA Board suspended their football manager, Dessie Farrell, after nine players were photographed together at the Innisfails GAA ground.

These incidents are a huge embarrassment to the GAA at national level. However, the reality is that some county team managers have been breaking regulations with impunity for years.

There is an on-going debate about the Government’s decision to remove the elite status of inter-county players in January while scientific data now suggests there is a minimum risk of the Covid-19 virus spreading in outdoor settings.

Nonetheless, the unpalatable reality is that at least four counties broke the rules during the world’s worst pandemic in a century.

So, what are the chances of managers obeying rules in normal times when they don’t feel morally obliged to follow them at the peak of a health crisis?

Coincidentally, the GAA are due to announce the calendar for the 2021 season this afternoon.

Despite confirmation of this latest breach the season is likely to go ahead as planned with a mid-May start for the National Football and hurling leagues while the football championship will be run on a straight knock out basis.

Nonetheless, Croke Park officials will be very angry at the latest revelations.

Last weekend, GAA President Larry McCarthy warned that another incident like Dublin’s training breach would makes things ‘very difficult’ for the Association.

"I don’t think honestly this particular incident is going to impact it," he said of the GAA’s impending return to action. Now, if there was another one? Oh Lord, that would make it very difficult for us.”

Presumably, McCarthy was referring to another breach being detected between last weekend and when training can officially resume in the Republic of Ireland later this month. The saving grace for the GAA is that the Monaghan incident occurred last month.

The GAA set a precedent when dealing with the Down and Cork cases with Paddy Tally banned for eight weeks and Cork boss Ronan McCarthy suspended for 12 weeks while both counties were stripped of home advantage for one league game this season.

But the GAA may still impose more putative penalties on both Dublin and Monaghan, though of course these could be reduced on appeal.

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