Following the Court of Arbitration ruling on Thursday, Cappry Rovers have been awarded the 2019/20 Donegal Junior League Premier Division title.
In a statement, the club have welcomed the decision and have asked the Donegal League and Ulster FA to review their policies going foward.
“Cappry Rovers Football Club welcome the findings and decision of the Independent Arbitrator, Brian Murphy Bl, in relation to the recent Arbitration request brought by Kilmacrennan Celtic Football Club. This was in relation to the match between Cranford FC and Kilmacrennan FC on 9th August 2020.
The following extract from the decision of the Arbitrator reads as follows:
7.1.1. That as a result of fielding an ineligible player (Enda McCormick) in the match against Cranford FC on 9 August 2020, Kilmacrennan Celtic FC forfeit that match and be treated as if it had lost the match 3-0.
7.1.2. Accordingly, that the total points awarded to both of those two clubs during that season be adjusted with immediate effect such that Cranford FC received the points for the win and that the goal difference for and against, be adjusted accordingly.
Cappry Rovers welcome this decision, as it is consistent with the findings of the Donegal League Disciplinary hearing of 20th August 2020 which was an appeal lodged by Cranford FC in relation to the match with Kilmacreenan Celtic on 9th August 2020; the Football Association Appeal hearing of 7th July 2021 which was the result of an appeal by Cappry Rovers against a decision by the Ulster Football Association and now the findings of the Independent Arbitrator. For reasons known only to themselves, the decision of the Ulster Football Association to overturn the decision of the Donegal League Disciplinary Committee has caused this unwelcome delay. However, the outcome remains the same as one year ago made by the Donegal League Disciplinary Committee and the decisions of both the Football Association of Ireland Disciplinary Control Unit and the Independent Arbitration process further confirm this.
Cappry Rovers Player/Manager Paddy McNulty commented: “Obviously we are all delighted with this outcome, an outcome that shouldn’t have had to wait twelve months to be delivered. The fact that Cappry Rovers were crowned Premier Division champions of the Donegal League almost a year ago, and for this to then by taken away from us by a decision by the Ulster Football Association, meant that it was a real kick in the teeth for myself, the players and everyone involved with Cappry Rovers. The commitment, dedication and work put in by all the players has been justifiably been rewarded and despite the twelve months wait, we can all be proud of our achievement of winning the Donegal League Premier Division.”
The rules of the Donegal League and the Football Association are there for all to see and it’s up to us all to know the rules and apply them as per the rule books. We have been the innocent party in this entire process – this is something not of our making, but we ended up being the ones punished initially. The initial appeal in this entire case was not brought about by Cappry Rovers, but by Cranford FC who felt they were wronged by playing in a game against Kilmacrennan Celtic who were fielding an ineligible player. The Donegal League should have noticed this when the match cards were provided to them, but that failure meant that Cranford had to go down the only route available to them and lodge an appeal.
This appeal was upheld by the Donegal League Disciplinary Committee. Kilmacrennan Celtic, who were within their rights, appealed this decision to the Ulster Football Association, who overturned the decision by the Donegal League Disciplinary Committee – this despite the fact that they did not refer to the rulebooks of either the Donegal League or Football Association of Ireland when making their decision. The disappointing thing to emerge from this, which we only found out much later, was that the Donegal League did not attend this meeting to defend their original decision.
Hence, Cappry Rovers felt they had no other option but to lodge our own appeal to the Football Association of Ireland in relation to the Ulster Football Association’s decision. Ultimately, the Football Association of Ireland Disciplinary hearing found that the Ulster Football Association did not follow the rules of either the Donegal League rulebook or the Football Association of Ireland rulebook and ruled that Kilmacrennan Celtic played an ineligible player in their game with Cranford FC on 9th August 2020. Kilmacrennan Celtic then brought the matter to the Independent Arbitration process with that outcome of that upholding the decision of the Football Association of Ireland. This matter has been a drawn out affair that nobody wants, and also a costly one financially for all involved.
John W. McNulty founder member of the club said: “On a personal note, I am obviously delighted with the outcome. When Cappry Rovers entered the Donegal League in 1979, I was the Player-Manager of the club. Since then I have been a lifetime member of Cappry Rovers. Therefore, it has been great to watch the club win the Donegal League Premier Division title for the very first time – with my son the now Player-Manger. The wheel has turned full circle and we are all very proud of our achievements with the club.”
Going forward, Cappry Rovers feel that both the Donegal League and Ulster Football Association review their processes, policies and procedures to ensure that a situation like this does not occur in the future. Errors were made, wrongful information was communicated and both the Donegal League and Ulster Football Association failed to adhere to the rulebooks of both the Donegal League and the Football Association of Ireland.
Cappry Rovers are delighted that the club can finally claim their rightful title as Donegal League Premier Division Champions 2019/20. We look forward to the new league campaign which begins next month.”