Managers clash over Colm Moreton availability

Leitrim GAA County Board officials say decision was left with player

John Connolly


John Connolly


Managers clash over Colm Moreton availability

Colm Moreton in action against Wicklow on Sunday. Photo by Willie Donnellan

A war of words erupted on Sunday over the availability of dual star Colm Moreton for both Leitrim Hurling and Football after hurling manager Martin Cunniffe said that the football team management should "hang their heads in shame".

However football team manager Brendan Guckian stressed that Moreton's decision to line out with the footballers on Sunday against Wicklow rather than play with the hurlers earlier in the day in the Division 3B Final in Ballyconnell was the players decision and should be respected.

The clash of fixtures came when Storm Emma wiped out the last round of League fixtures in both football and hurling. It meant that the Division 3B Final, due to be played on March 11, had to be put back three weeks and with two Leitrim games falling victim to the weather, Sunday's football clash with Wicklow assumed more importance.

Martin Cunniffe made an impassioned plea in last week's Leitrim Observer and on local radio that Moreton be made available to the Hurlers as the hurling manager made strong efforts to have the Leitrim Gaels and Carrick-on-Shannon hurling clubman on the field against Lancashire.

Moreton's absence in Ballyconnell was sorely felt as Leitrim lost the Division 3B Final 1-25 to 1-18 to Lancashire after extra-time, prompting Colm Stenson to tweet:

And speaking after the final, Martin Cunniffe expressed his obvious annoyance at the fact that the towering Moreton was not available to the hurling team - "James Glancy was a big loss and Colm Moreton was another big loss and it was the Leitrim team management that should hold their heads in shame at what they have done.

"In fairness to the Leitrim County Board and to the Leitrim Executive, they fully backed us and we could have taken him there last Friday night. I looked for a special meeting and in fairness to the Executive, they fully backed us and we could have gone and taken Colm Moreton.

"But in fairness to Colm Moreton, we weren’t going to do it, he was picked on the Leitrim team and we wish him the best of luck."

However, Cunniffe's contention that Moreton wasn't allowed play by the Senior football management was strongly refuted by Brendan Guckian - "I spoke with Colm last week and I said whatever decision he made, I’d stand by him. He decided to come and play with the football which obviously I’m happy with.

"I think it was very unfair on the unnecessary pressure that was put on him. I think if a young lad makes a decision, his decision should be respected and I would obviously stand by his decision."

The Leitrim Observer spoke with a number of Leitrim GAA County Board officials, they stressed that the decision on who to play with was left completely up to Colm Moreton himself and that they would have backed whatever the player made.

As it turned out, Moreton played the entire game for the footballers, scoring a point during the first half in the facile win over Wicklow.