McGuinness claims overturned ban came from an 'administrative error'

McGuinness claims overturned ban came from an 'administrative error'

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has claimed that the mistake leading to an 8-week ban for him was due to an "administrative error."

McGuinness had received a proposed eight-week ban for fielding an ineligible player in the McKenna Cup win over Armagh.

Finbarr Roarty, who was 17 at the time of their match against Orchard County, was considered underage for the game after a meeting of Ulster GAA officials on Sunday evening.

Roarty, a player for Naomh Conaill, is reported to have turned 18 on Thursday. However, according to the rules, all senior inter-county players must have reached that age by the beginning of the calendar year.

As a consequence, Donegal has been instructed to forfeit the points earned from the victory. However, points were not awarded to Orchard County as they did not appeal.

In the subsequent days, the Donegal GAA went to an Ulster GAA hearing and had the ban thrown out as it was unclear under the rule who was responsible for the mistake.

McGuinness, speaking after the McKenna Cup win over Monaghan at Castleblayney, claimed that he and the Donegal legal team had a good case when it came down to the appeal, and the mistake was an administrative issue.

(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

“We had a good case,” said McGuinness. “There was an administrative error, and the rulebook was not clear as well.

“Who is the ‘person in charge of the team?’ And where does the role of the coach end and the administrator begin?

“That rule, when it was initially brought up, was to deal with juvenile football, where people managing young players and then chairpersons and secretaries were receiving major sanctions.

“But this is senior football, and we have senior executives who deal with the goings-on off the pitch. There’s probably something there in terms of the rulebook.

“We take it on the chin, as we should've known, but it was an administrative error.”

Roarty, who has since turned 18, is ineligible to play for Donegal seniors this year. McGuinness believed that the talented footballer would be available by January, but that will not be the case.

“I came out after that (Armagh) game and spoke to the media about how well he did,” added McGuinness.

“And if there was any malice involved, that would be the last thing we would be doing.

“Last time around (2011), we had Patrick McBrearty as a 17-year-old and lads like Martin O’Reilly, Ryan McHugh, and Odhran MacNiallais.

“We always took the best minors, and we actually had a game against Roscommon before Christmas and left Finbarr out of the squad, and we believed then that he was eligible in January.”