WHITESTRAND United manager Brendan Callaghan has accused the Donegak League of ‘sporting gerrymandering’ over the scheduling of Sunday’s Division 1/2 promotion/relegation play-off.
Whitestrand United face St Catherine’s in the big game at The Diamond Park, Ballyare.
The game was originally fixed for Sunday, August 9, but was called off late in the day due to a suspected Covid-19 case relating to the Whitestrand club.
That date was three weeks ago and ‘Strand have been left irate at the three-week delay in re-fixing the game.
Indeed, the McGarvey Park club issued a statement on their Facebook page this week suggesting that this was due to the Donegal League attempting to ensure there was no clash with the Killybegs GAA club’s senior championship commitments.
In the statement, Callaghan is quoted as saying: “Integrity has been called into question and it appears that the Donegal League executive are prepared to satisfy Gaelic Football players, who put soccer second (at their very best) and this is a direct insult to the common dedicated soccer player, who toggs (sic) out week in week out whenever they can.
“Every club has to contend with players who will naturally prioritise other issues such as work, family events and even other sports, and our own club Whitestrand United is no different, but for an official organisation, The Donegal Junior League, whose ethos ironically is ‘Promoting Junior Soccer in County Donegal’, sporting gerrymandering is not on.
“It’s unfair and I believe it has brought the entire decision making process into disrepute. This is supposed to be sport after all”.
Callaghan’s feelings are so strong on the matter he says he will step down after the game this weekend.
Whitestrand claim that queries on the matter have been ‘ignored’ by the Donegal League’s executive.
The club say they were contacted to seek out if they were willing to play the game in midweek.
“Whitestrand are querying whether any form of influence has been exerted to delay and postpone the date to suit the opposition,” Whitestrand said.
“This belief has been established because the Donegal League Fixtures Secretary contacted and asked Whitestrand Football club to play the match on a Wednesday night? WHY??? Why would the fixtures secretary request a Sunday league team to play a playoff and match of such importance on a midweek night, if not for a particular reason?
“No lack of pitches, no lack of referees, no excuses and certainly no answers! Since that request, 2 extremely viable Sundays have passed and no play-off refixed, but alas and coincidentally, the Donegal Senior Championship has been in full flow on those same days also.”
Whitestrand have stressed that their gripe does not lay with St Catherine’s and say the release of the statement came after ‘exhausting official channels’.
The Donegal League has declined to comment on the matter.