Ballypickas’ attempts to have their catchment area defined failed once again at last Monday night’s Laois GAA Convention, as it was voted down by a significant majority.
The club, which sits on the border of the Abbeyleix and Ballinakill parishes, have been trying for some time to get a resolution they are happy with, and they had hoped their amendment to the Laois Bye-Laws in relation to catchment areas would bring it all to an end.
The amendment proposed that, while other clubs be bound by Roman Catholic parishes in the county, there should be an addition which reads. “The Club Catchment Area for Ballypickas GAA shall be the Club’s traditional area of Spink and Ballyroan and their surrounding rural areas.”
Speaking in favour of the motion, Ballypickas secretary Mary Whelan said that any club catchment area had to be “representative of the hinterland” of that club. She also stated that the motion would not “alter the catchment area of any other club.”
The current means by which players are eligible to play for the club comes from an agreement between Ballypickas and Ballinakill, which was drawn up with the help of the Leinster Council. It has been signed by both clubs and has seen 18 players across 13 families given permission to play with Ballypickas. As part of the agreement, however, Ballypickas lost their claim to Knock NS.
While Ms Whelan signed that agreement, she admitted she was “very aware of the consequences of my actions, and I have had to tell parents their children couldn’t play for the club.”
She appealed to the clubs of Laois to pass the motion, asking “are we a community based organisation or not?”
Anthony Delaney responded for the County Board, having been one of the signatories of the agreement between the Ballypickas and Ballinakill clubs. He urged clubs to vote against the motion, stating that “the notion that any one club can exempt themselves from the rules is nonsense.”
He was also critical of the wording of the motion, as the term “surrounding rural areas” was too vague, and would lead to a raft of clubs filing similar motions next year. He also reminded the meeting that an abiding agreement was in place, which had been signed by members of the Ballypickas club.
Ballinakill delegate Adrian Fitzpatrick also spoke against the motion. “Why do other clubs have to abide by the rules? We have stuck by the agreement, why can’t they (Ballypickas) do the same?”
The motion was eventually put to the a vote on the floor, but drew just 14 votes in favour, with 58 votes against.