Monaghan hurling boss Lennon resigns over fixtures row10/04/2012 - 08:48:47
Monaghan hurling is in a state of chaos after the county's senior hurling manager Mattie Lennon decided to resign over a fixtures row.
The dispute has led to Lennon's side stating that they will not contest Sunday's Allianz Hurling League Division 3A final against Fingal unless the matter is resolved. It is also threatening their participation in the upcoming Nicky Rackard Cup competition.
The players, a number of whom play both football and hurling for their clubs, are angered by the scheduling of club football games for tomorrow night.
That gives them just three full days to recover in time for the divisional decider against second-placed Fingal in Tullamore.
It has been a largely positive league campaign for the Farney men to date - they posted wins over Donegal, Fingal, Tyrone and Sligo on the way to topping Division 3A.
Lennon elected to resign after his request to have the club football fixtures - both senior and intermediate league ties - postponed was refused by the Monaghan County Board.
Following meetings with the Monaghan County Board and the Gaelic Players Association, the Monaghan hurlers released the following statement:
"The Monaghan senior hurling squad will withdraw from Sunday's Division 3A final if a solution cannot be found regarding the Monaghan County Board's decision to fix a number of intermediate club football matches for Wednesday April 11, four days before the league final.
"The County Board has also refused to give a guarantee to the county hurling squad that a four-day preparation period before Nicky Rackard Cup games would be afforded to the squad. The Rackard Cup commences on May 5 and ends with the final a month later on June 9.
"Manager Mattie Lennon has resigned on a point of principle over the failure to reschedule this week's club football fixtures and the Monaghan squad are fully supportive of the manager.
"Seven clubs were affected by the scheduling of the fixtures, four of which agreed to release their hurlers for Wednesday's county training session. However, three clubs said they were not in a position to do so and requested that the games be switched. The County Board refused, leaving nine players having to make a choice whether to play football with their clubs or train with their county hurlers four days before a league final."
The statement added: "Mattie Lennon was appointed as Monaghan senior hurling manager in December 2011 and was given assurances by the County Board that they were committed to the promotion and development of hurling within the county.
"Mattie brought in David Kennedy as coach, Ciaran McKeever as fitness coach and Pat MacStravick as a squad liaison. Training began on January 4 and continued right up to April 6 when the management resigned.
"During this period the team conducted 44 collective sessions with a 90 percent average attendance and went from finishing bottom of Division 3A of the league in 2011 to going undefeated and reaching next Sunday's final. This huge improvement can be attributed to Mattie, his management team and the dedication of a committed panel of 29 players.
"The support of the County Board in putting these structures in place was vital and it is beyond our comprehension as a squad why they are now prepared undo this progress by failing to accept a compromise.
"On learning of the impasse, the county hurling squad met and a unanimous decision was taken to support the management decision as we felt it was grossly unfair of the Board not to facilitate this short-term dual commitment.
"We believe this decision by the Monaghan County Board contravenes the GAA's stated commitment to hurling contained in the recently published Hurling Development Plan. Also the proposed scheduling of fixtures during the Rackard Cup is also a welfare issue and in conflict with the Association's commitment to tackle player burnout.
"The County Chairman was contacted following the meeting and asked to support the hurling squad in relation to resolving the issues. However, he was made aware that if no solution can be found that the Monaghan senior hurling squad will be left with no choice other than to withdraw from Sunday's league final and the Rackard Cup.
"Three player representatives met with the County Board last Sunday night and brought the following four points to the table, considered by the hurling squad to be wholly reasonable and fair:
1. That the football fixtures involving Inniskeen, Cremartin and Toome for Wednesday, April 11 be postponed to allow the county train collectively as we have done every Wednesday since January 1 in preparation for the Division 3A hurling final scheduled for April 15.
2. That club football games currently fixed for Fridays prior to Nicky Rackard games which take place on the following Saturday giving less than 24 hours recovery time be moved to, at the very least, the Tuesday prior to the Nicky Rackard matches giving at least four days to prepare.
3. Should we reach the Nicky Rackard Cup final, a minimum of one week be given for preparation for the final.
4. That all efforts be made to bring Mattie Lennon and his backroom team back on board so training can resume Wednesday night and preparations continue for next Sunday's league final.
"The County Board officers were unwilling to move on the fixtures issue which automatically ruled out our management returning (point 4). In response to the break before Nicky Rackard games the Board said it was a 'possibility but no guarantee could be given'.
"The Board informed us that the only immediate option was to put a joint interim management team in place and the team play next week's final under them.
"However, this suggestion by the Board was unanimously rejected at a squad meeting on Monday morning and a vote was taken that until a resolution was found satisfying the four points above, the squad would not participate in either the league final or the Rackard Cup. It is our belief this is in the best interests of Monaghan hurling."
The Gaelic Players Association has been informed of the decision and is liaising with the Monaghan squad at present.
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