Rosenallis GAA club have called for a reform of the GAA's suspension protocols, after one of their juvenile players was knocked out in a recent league game.
At Monday night's meeting of the Laois County Board, Rosenallis delegate Paul Maher read a statement which the club had prepared. It was their first time to comment since the incident happened last month.
The club voiced their disappointment that, with three players from Clonaslee St Manman's given suspensions arising from the incident, all three were free to either play football while serving their suspensions, or hurling at a higher level, such as minor.
"We are disappointed that the rules of our association seem to allow for the perpetrators of an offence to be free to play a game the following day" read the Rosenallis statement, before adding "the injured player may be out of our games for several months, or longer."
In the game in question, the referee was forced to abandon the fixture, as the Rosenallis player who was struck had to be removed from the field in an ambulance after suffering a concussion, before spending a couple of nights in Portlaoise Hospital. After being released, he subsequently suffered from dizzy spells at school, forcing him to return to hospital once again where underwent an MRI scan.
He has not returned to playing sport as of yet, and is thought to be at least six weeks away from being cleared to return to playing sport.
Two of the Clonaslee St Manman's players involved were given eight week suspensions, while the third was given a four week suspension. As they were subject to timed suspensions in this case, and they are U-16, then all suspensions must be halved, compared to what would be given to an adult player.
Laois secretary Niall Handy has previously called for a change to the GAA's rules with regard to suspensions in his reports to County Convention. Chairman Gerry Kavanagh indicated that Laois GAA will look to draw up a motion which could potentially go to Congress, in a bit to rectify the problems as Laois see them.
As things stand, in terms of match suspensions, for examply, a player given a match ban for an incident arising out of his team's final league game is free to play championship later in the year, as the bans only apply to the league.
Likewise, if a player is sent off in his team's final game in the championship, he is free to play in the league the following year, as the suspension will only apply to the competition the incident occurs in.
This is not the case at intercounty level, where league suspensions carry over to the championship.
The Rosenallis statement in full is as follows:
"To date Rosenallis club have not made any public comment on the incident which resulted in one of our juvenile players being hospitalised after being knocked unconscious as a result of being struck to the head with a hurl.
"We have not done so because we feel as a club the only recourse is to have the incident dealt with through Laois GAA.
"Following the suspensions handed down by the CCC we are disappointed that the rules of our association seem to allow for the perpetrators of an offence to be free to play a game the following day, whereas the injured player may be out of our games for several months or longer.
"It is regretful that the message being sent out by suspensions such as these is not conducive to parents encouraging their children to play our games.
"We as a club have and always expect to send out our players to participate in a safe and enjoyable environment. This is something we would ask our fellow clubs in Laois to with us in.
"We would also like to thank all the clubs across the county for the concerns and good wishes conveyed to us regarding this incident."