SWINFORD GAA Club will begin the 2018 Mayo GAA League season in Division 1D of the league.

Midwest Radio Sport can confirm that the club saw their appeal against a deduction of points by the Mayo Co Board for fielding an illegal player against Bonniconlon dismissed by the Dispute Resolutions Authority last night.

The final verdict brings to an end several months of boardroom wrangling after Bonniconlon lodged an objection to the use of an illegal player by Swinford in their final league game of the 2017 Division 1C campaign. When the North Mayo club had their appeal upheld by the County Board, Swinford brought an appeal to the Connacht GAA Council. 

The Connacht GAA Board ruled in favour of Swinford but on further examination by the Central Appeals Committee in Croke Park, this ruling was dismissed. Swinford's final port of call was the DRA but after several weeks of scrutiny and oral hearings with officials from Bonniconlon, Swinford, Mayo GAA and Connacht GAA, the DRA ruled in favour of Bonniconlon and upheld the original decision of Mayo GAA to award the points to them.

That all means that Bonniconlon finish the 2017 Division 1C season on ten points while Swinford end on six points and thus are relegated to Division 1D. Louisburgh and Castlebar Mitchels both finished the campaign on eight points and were awaiting the outcome of the DRA ruling to see where they stood. According to Mayo GAA league rules, when two teams finish level on points, their final placing will be decided by the head-to-head result. Louisburgh defeated Mitchels B in June of 2017 but the fate of the two teams has yet to be confirmed officially. 

With an end in sight to the situation however it does appear that the final league placings for 2017 will be confirmed very shortly, with the 2018 fixtures to come.

Below is the a part of the verdict as delivered by the DRA which Midwest Radio has managed to get a copy of.



The within application relates to the awarding by the Third Named

Respondent (Mayo CCC) of a Mayo Senior League Division 1C football fixture

which took place on 22 October 2017 on foot of an objection by the Fourth

Named Respondent (Bonniconlon).


Interestingly, Mayo GAA have divided the League into Division 1A, 1B, 1C,

1D, 1E and 1F. The reason for using this lettered and numbered terminology is

not to stigmatise those clubs in the lowered tiers of the division. Also, a club

(as was the case here) with more than one team would then nominate players

to play in the upper tiers of the division which must include at least twelve

players from the previous year’s championship.


On Sunday 23rd September 2017, the Claimant Club played Burrishoole in a

Division 1C game and a player from the Claimant’s Club received a red card.

The penalty as in normal course was a one match suspension in the same code

and at the same level, applicable to the next game in the same competition. This

sanction was accepted and not queried by the player. He was not one of the

nominated players.


On Sunday 15th October 2017, the Claimant played Ardnaree in a Division 1E

game and that player did not play. However, he did play the following Division

1C game on the 22nd October 2017 against Bonniconlon believing he had

already served his suspension. The Claimant won that game by a point and an

objection was lodged by Bonniconlon to Mayo CCC. The Tribunal did not hear

evidence from the player and the facts here in relation to serving his suspension

in Division 1E game is merely a presumption on our part.


The Claimant appealed the Mayo CCC decision dated 6 November 2017 to the

Second Respondent - Coiste Eisteachta Chonnacht (Connacht HC). Following



a hearing on 21 November 2017, Connacht HC upheld the Claimant’s appeal.

Thereafter, the Fourth Respondent - Mhuinne Chonaillain (Bonniconlon)

successfully appealed the matter to An Lár Choiste Achomhairc (CAC). The

Claimant has identified the CAC decision dated 15 December 2017 as the sole

disputed decision.


When the hearing commenced the Tribunal reserved its position on the initial

jurisdictional point by the CAC pending further discussions between members

of the Tribunal and by agreement and to facilitate the parties it proceeded to

hear the substantive issues. We now set out our decision in relation to that

preliminary jurisdictional issue and as a result, the latter substantive issue is

largely irrelevant.



The appeal by the fourth named Respondent, Bonniconlon before the CAC was

on three grounds inter alia (1) Connacht HC had erred and misapplied Rule

7.11(o) T.O. 2017 (2) Connacht HC had erred and misapplied Rule 7.10(d)(1) by

ruling the objection out of order under Rule 7.10(e)(1) in circumstances where

this was not raised by the Claimant at the objection hearing before the Mayo

CCC or Connacht HC (3) Connacht HC had erred and misapplied Rule 7.11(p).

This is our numbering for ease of reference.



The CAC upheld the appeal on one ground, that is number (2) above and

simply put, they had no jurisdiction in the matter considering this argument

was not previously raised by the Claimant either before the Mayo CCC or

Connacht HC.

It was accepted on behalf of the Claimant that they did not raise the ‘deeming

of the objection in order’ under Rule 7.10(e)(1) either before the Mayo CCC or



Connacht HC but did raise Rule 7.10(d)(1) and by implication that would have

included Rule 7.10(e)(1) and therefore, no prejudice occurs.


However, to succeed under Rule 7.10(d)(1) one must first challenge the

substance of the decision by the Mayo CCC which was made under Rule

7.10(e)(1) deeming the objection in order and unfortunately this was not done

by the Claimant.




The Tribunal finds that it has no jurisdiction to hear this dispute and dismisses

the claim.

Rule 7.13(d) is very clear that no member or unit shall refer a matter for

Arbitration until all available avenues of Appeal under the Rules have been

exhausted. In this instance, this did not occur.


Whilst one would have sympathy for the Claimant given their impressive

arguments before us on the vagueness in the suspension as outlined against the

player concerned (which coincidentally as an aside, it may have been read in

favour of the player) it nevertheless would create a very unhelpful precedent

to allow points of arguments before us to proceed where they were not

previously adjudicated by those other Units of the Association. This is a well-

established Rule of Law. As such, previous arguments before the Units must

be exhaustively adjudicated on.




The Tribunal recommends that where Match Suspension based disciplinary

sanctions are being proposed/imposed on players that such notices indicate

clearly to what specific game(s)/league division a suspension arises i.e. in what

code, at what level and in what competition.

This is the unanimous decision of the Tribunal


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