Dromintee explain 'old boys' line-up in Crossmaglen tussle

'Action' from the Crossmaglen v Dromintee Armagh Football Championship game
Middle aged men lined out for Dromintee in the Armagh Football Championship game against former All-Ireland kingpins Crossmaglen

Dromintee's football team has given its side of the story on the debacle which led the club to field a mostly veteran's line-up in Friday's Armagh Championship game against Crossmaglen.

One of the team's players got married on Friday and 10 other members of the squad were attending the wedding.

Dromintee said protracted attempts to secure a postponement had been rejected by the Armagh county board.

As a result, veteran club members took to the field in the quarter-final.

Crossmaglen were leading 1-7 to 0-0 after about eight minutes at the Athletic Grounds when their team managers Oisin McConville and John McEntee called the players aside and began to conduct a training session.

For the remainder of the match, the Dromintee personnel, at least one of whom was wearing jeans, opted to gently kick the ball among themselves as the Crossmaglen players were put through their paces in the training session.

Crossmaglen's Aaron Kernan
Crossmaglen's Aaron Kernan and his team-mates were told to train during Friday's fixture

Only a couple of Dromintee players were wearing football boots with many not wearing any form of sporting footwear.

Monday's Dromintee players statement said that they had taken the decision not to play in the game two days before the fixture.

"After speaking with the club chairman and two other committee members it was agreed the county board should be notified of this," added the statement.

"This decision was not taken lightly and was in response to a number of decisions by the Armagh Competitions Control Committee throughout the championship which we deem to have been unfair and disrespectful to Dromintee GAC."

The Dromintee statement said that earlier in the summer, they had twice agreed to postpone one of their championship matches to accommodate a dual player in the opposition team.

"In the interest of the player and fairness, we were happy to comply despite this resulting in several players having to cancel pre-arranged holidays.

"Our only stipulation was that the eventual fixture would avoid a particular Friday evening so that a number of our younger players could attend an important school function.

"This request was ultimately ignored by the CCC and we fielded minus three players.

"Having come through our final qualifier last weekend we were then faced with the prospect six days later of a direct clash with a family wedding within the team that included two brothers in the bridal party and nine players most very closely acquainted with the groom and family circle.

"Representations were made to the Armagh CCC after our first-round qualifier to avoid a clash before provisional fixtures were set in stone.

"Any possible date bar the one chosen would have met our request under both the spirit and rules of the association. No accommodation was made."

The Dromintee said that continuing efforts to convince the Armagh authorities to re-schedule the game were made but that these were met by a "brick wall on each occasion".

"An agreement could not be made with our opposition [Crossmaglen] at that late stage as they had made player travel and holiday arrangements around the original fixture.

"The rules and guides set out for the CCC in Armagh have been very loosely applied and certainly not to suit Dromintee GAC.

"Like every club team in the country we have spent many months preparing together for this championship campaign, wear the Dromintee jersey with great pride and did not arrive at this decision lightly.

"Having been treated so contemptuously by the Armagh CCC we preferred to support the two central players fielding would have deprived us.

"Our progress through the championship has been marked by togetherness and unity and we chose to stand by the same principle we had played with."

The Dromintee statement said that the threat of heavy sanctions from the Armagh county board for not playing the fixture "forced" their club to cobble together a team from veteran members.

Some reports have suggested that the club was in danger of facing a total suspension for 48 weeks which would have affected under-age grades as well.

"As a small rural club, and with the restriction of our junior players being unable to play due to next year's championship commitments, the community rallied so that we would be able to at least field in this fixture."