CORK City have officially informed the FAI that their U14 academy boys’ team will not be fulfilling their league quarter-final game against Finn Harps this Saturday in Donegal.
The club officially confirmed the news on Thursday evening following discussions between the Board of Management and the Head of the Academy, Liam Kearney, where it was agreed it is “completely unacceptable” that their youngsters have been asked to travel for over seven hours on a bus to play the match when alternative options are available.
A statement released on this club’s official website reads:
"The Board and club management have unanimously backed Liam’s decision to forfeit the match under the principle that it is completely unacceptable that a developmental age group of U14s be asked to travel for over seven hours on a bus to play this fixture when more pragmatic options for the fulfillment of the fixture are evidently available.
“We as a club have endeavoured to find a resolution with the opposition club by suggesting that we play this fixture at a neutral venue, as we have done previously this season and as has been the case for several fixtures this season so far involving significant travel.
"However, the designated home team wished to maintain their home ‘advantage’ for what is meant to be a developmental league fixture.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the club had the funds to facilitate an overnight trip, including hotel, meals, overnight bus, etc… at great expense.
"However, the premise of forcing a group of U14 players to travel seven-plus hours on a bus remains the core issue, particularly as due to school that the players would not arrive in Donegal until close or after midnight.
“Unfortunately, as a club we have had to take this course of action and as a result there will be 20 disappointed players this weekend, who will miss a great development opportunity due to what we believe is a fundamental lack of understanding of what player development should really be and stand for.
“Unfortunately, in this case, it is evident that winning, or gaining an advantage in an effort to win, has been prioritised.
“We are deeply disappointed not to be playing the fixture but believe we have made the correct decision in the best interest of our players.
"We wish to further state that we are now keen to engage with the relevant parties to discuss amendments to the regulations for next season to ensure there is no repeat of such a scenario in the future.”