LIMERICK GAA chiefs have withdrawn a threat to remove clubs from championship action if they fail to support the 2012 Limerick GAA Development Draw.
At this week’s County Board meeting the clubs of the county rounded on the executive officers and forced a u-turn.
The top table had put a motion before the meeting proposing that any club not meeting their draw target or agreeing to pay the resulting financial penalty would be stopping from playing in the county championships.
“I don’t like doing this but this is my last year and for the last four years maybe I was too soft,” said Limerick GAA chairman Liam Lenihan of the threat to exclude clubs from their respective championships.
“We have spoke to all clubs and our pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” said the chairman.
The meeting heard that 10 clubs in the county were submitting less than 50 members and the chairman outlined that some of these were “amongst the biggest clubs in the county”.
Killeedy’s Mike Cunningham led the calls for the threat to be cut from the proposal.
“This is the most severe thing I have ever heard,” he said.
“Nationally there is 20% of clubs in serious financial difficulty and that means that some of us here are in difficulty,” explained Cunningham.
The chairman hit back.
“On September 15 Owen Hayes (treasurer) and myself met with Tom Ryan and the Finance Committee in Croke Park and what they wanted us to do was to place a levy on every single club and divisional club in the county but I don’t want to do that,” explained the chairman.
He added: “There is money in the draw for clubs”.
“I am only trying to make the draw viable and profitable and I would love to be able to pay out grants to the primary schools, the post primary schools and the green and white,” said Lenihan.
As well as the threat to remove clubs who faltered, club delegates also voiced their concerns about their inability to meet the suggested targets.
Knockane GAA club started the ball rolling when seeking an exemption.
The chairman confirmed that an appeals process would be in place.
“We will meet clubs that have a genuine difficulty but what we are saying is that everyone has got to make an effort. The figures can be negotiated with the clubs through a process of appeal,” he said, adding that March 1 was the deadline for appeals to the target number of members.
Ahane delegate Donal Morrissey said that the county board’s stance was akin to “taking a sledge hammer to crack a nut.”
In the end a proposal from Mike Cunningham to remove the threat was put to the floor and was easily passed.
But the quotas remain in place with senior clubs having to reach 190, an intermediate club will have a quota of 180 and a junior club will have a quota of 170. Clubs failing to reach their target will have to pay €15 per unit.