Did you hear the one about the Kerryman…





Roscommon’s Conor Cox conundrum


Okay, bear with me for a couple of minutes while I attempt to work through one of the GAA’s more head-scratching rules.

  A recent letter to the Roscommon People from Bogota in Colombia asked the question ‘Was Roscommon GAA letting down smaller clubs?’ The letter was written by Éire Óg clubman, Brendan Corrigan, who raised the recent transfer of Kerry player Conor Cox to Roscommon.

  Many of you will have been aware that towards the end of last year, Roscommon supporters were cheered by the news that a former Kerry senior player and All-Ireland Junior Football Championship winner with The Kingdom, Conor Cox, had completed his transfer from Listowel Emmets to Roscommon and would play his football for Éire Óg.

  However, as Brendan wrote:

  ‘…here’s the snag. To play for the county, which he no doubt will, in order to comply with the GAA’s convoluted rules, he must first have played a championship match for his club. This is slightly difficult to do in January when the local club championship proper doesn’t start for another few months’.

  Last weekend the GAA did indeed point out  that Conor would have to play a championship match for his new club in order to become eligible for Roscommon this year. The problem, of course, is that this year’s county championship doesn’t throw in until August.

  Luckily, it appeared as though Roscommon GAA had come up with two possible solutions: the first was to stage a Northern Board championship match, while the second involved some sort of preliminary Intermediate Championship match between Conor’s new club and the newly-promoted junior champions, Kilglass Gaels.

  It is believed the first solution was turned down by the national association, which ruled that only a county championship match would do, while the second solution became unviable following the recent changes to the county championship format.

  It is now believed that Conor, who is determined to play inter-county football with Roscommon this year, will play with Dublin’s St. Jude’s (Kevin McManamon’s club) in order to be eligible for the Rossies.

  In his letter to the Roscommon People, Brendan continued:

  ‘The loser here is an Éire Óg club struggling to find the numbers to keep going, a club with a dearth of ‘marquee’ county players, but a club with a proud tradition and a strong desire to be the best it can be. It’s what the GAA is all about, isn’t it?’

  Had Conor remained at Listowel Emmets and declared for Roscommon he would have been eligible for the county under the ‘parent’s home club rule’ (Other Relevant Connection), much like fellow newcomer, John Brian Carthy, who plays his club football with Ballinteer St. John’s in Dublin.

  Unfortunately for Éire Óg, the rules state that a player transferring into a club in the county must then play a championship match for that club in order to be eligible for selection for the county team. The John Brian Carthy route, on the other hand, just requires agreement from the County Board in whose jurisdiction the player is playing.

  To my mind, Brendan’s correct and the rule would appear to go against the GAA’s club and community ethos, as in this case it makes it easier for a player from a club in a different province to represent Roscommon rather than one willing to throw his lot in with a local team.