Parents of disappointed children, banned from acting as mascots prior to an Irish League football game, have branded the decision as ‘shameful’.
Kids aged from six to eight from Lurgan Celtic youth academy were told they were not allowed onto the pitch at Oxford Sunnyside’s Knockramer Park last Saturday prior to the senior game between their team and Donegal Celtic.
Dad Barry Duffy said his son Oisin (8) was nearly in tears after being told he couldn’t go onto the pitch to be a mascot for Lurgan Celtic.
“It’s a crying shame. Having to watch all the kids faces on Saturday, so disappointed,” he said.
It’s nothing short of shameful. How could they be so spiteful to kids,” he said.
Joanne Trainor said her son Calvin (7) was very disappointed.
“It was the first time he was to wear his new skip and his first time as a mascot. He was so looking forward to it. I was shocked when he was told he couldn’t do it.”
Another mum said both her two sons aged six and eight were thrilled when they were told they could be mascots at the game between Lurgan Celtic and Donegal Celtic.
“They went to bed that night all exciting about the game the next day and were very upset when they were told they couldn’t be mascots.”
Sinead Monaghan’s son Sean (7) was also upset. She said: “It’s an absolute disgrace. He didn’t understand and asked ‘mummy why am I not allowed to play?’
The boys were due to play a mini-match during half time. “How do you explain that to a child,” she asked.
A spokesperson for Oxford Sunnyside which owns the pitch at Knockramer said Lurgan Celtic had been allowed to use the pitch for the past ten years and it had been their stipulation that no children use the pitch as they wanted it kept to Irish League standards.
“Our own children were not able to use the pitch,” he said.
The spokesperson added that since Lurgan Celtic had set up a youth academy they thought they could change the rules. There was a meeting last month between both clubs and the issue of children using the pitch was not discussed.
“As far as we were concerned it was not a problem. We are being painted as the bad guys. It could have been handled better.
“There was not a word about it until match day,” he said, adding that there would be a meeting of Oxford Sunnyside this week to discuss the matter.
It is understood Lurgan Celtic have been using the Knockramer pitch for several years but are hoping to move to another venue within the next few years.