An 18-year-old boxer has won his High Court challenge against a decision to drop him from the panel for the European Youth Championships which take place in Dublin next week.
Michael O’Reilly had claimed he was unfairly dropped from a training camp and the panel after an incident of indiscipline earlier this month.
Mr Justice John Cooke said it goes without saying that an amateur sportsman has no legal right to a place on a team.
But he said that under its own rules the officer board of the amateur boxing association had no power to dismiss Michael O' Reilly from the selection panel for next week's European championships.
This afternoon, he secured two injunctions preventing the Central Council of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association from confirming the decision to drop him from the panel.
The council must also disregard the decision when it meets tomorrow to finalise the team.
The ruling means the Central Council may still consider him as a potential team member instead of simply ratifying another welterweight boxer, Christy Joyce, who was nominated by the youth coach.
Mr Justice John Cooke said the officer board of the IABA had arguably acted beyond its powers in deciding to remove Mr O’Reilly from the panel after his coach reported him for indiscipline.
However the judge refused an application by the boxer to order a ‘box-off’ to determine who should represent Ireland at welterweight level.
Michael O’Reilly claimed he was denied fair procedures when a decision was taken to remove him from the panel and nominate another boxer for the welterweight slot on the team.
It followed an incident in which he left the training camp to have his car repaired after it was damaged when he allowed a younger boxer to drive it in a car park.
His lawyers claimed the decision jeopardised his annual €5,000 grant from the Irish Sports Council and could affect his chance to compete in the Olympics.
The IABA denied the decision was made as part of a formal disciplinary process and was instead a performance decision made by a coach which was related to conduct during a training camp.
Lawyers for the IABA told the court it would be inconceivable that such coaching decisions in amateur organisations would be subject to legal scrutiny. They said he had not been suspended or expelled and his career and good name were not affected.
Since his exclusion from the youth training camp, he had competed at senior level and won a silver medal, the court heard.
However the judge said while the issue of team selection was not one for the courts to decide, it appeared the officer board of the IABA had acted beyond its powers in deciding to exclude Mr O’Reilly from the panel after his coach had reported him for absenting himself from the training camp.
The judge said it appeared at no point had Mr O’Reilly been warned that this sanction was being considered when he absented himself from the camp.
Mr Justice Cooke said it was unfortunate that the matter could not have been resolved internally. He said it ‘goes without saying that in any amateur voluntary organisation no member has any legal right to be chosen for membership of a particular squad or team.’
However the sanction of removing Mr O Reilly from the squad was a serious one for him and it appeared the officer board had no power to do so as team selection was a matter for the Central Council.
The Central Council should now be ‘entirely free’ to choose its team having regard to all matters it considers relevant, the judge said.
This may include the incident of indiscipline but not the decision by the officer board to drop Mr O Reilly from the panel, he said.