A Dublin born New York boy continue playing field hockey for a girls team for at least another year after an appeals hearing.

Keeling Pilaro, now 13, can play on for one more season with the Southampton High School team in Suffolk County.

An American athletics committee made the ruling after Pilaro appealed an initial decision banning him from playing with the girls.

The original hearing decreed that Keeling’s skills, learnt as he grew up in Dublin, had developed to a level superior to those of the boys.

Now the public schools athletics committee for Suffolk County has ruled that the teenager can play on with the girl’s team.

Keeling told reporters: “I was jumping up and down; I was so excited when I heard. I can play!”
Athletics committee attorney Kevin Seaman announced their decision that: “Keeling’s continued participation on the team ultimately would not have a significant adverse effect on girls’ opportunity to participate in interschool competition.”

The closed meeting heard that those are the same criteria used earlier this year when officials for the committee said Keeling’s skills had exceeded those of his female teammates and competitors.

The meeting, attended by 24 officials, was held behind closed doors. Seaman also confirmed that said the vote to allow Keeling to play was not unanimous.

The Southampton college coach and attorneys for both sides attended the meeting and heard that Keeling was named to an all-conference team after scoring 10 goals and eight assists as an eighth-grader last season.

His supporters noted that Keeling’s skills did not earn him the more prestigious all-county honors while Southampton’s squad finished in fourth place in its conference.

When Keeling moved to New York from Dublin he had to get permission from Suffolk’s mixed-competition committee according to website www.thejournal.ie.

Keeling is believed to be the first boy allowed to play alongside girls on Long Island according to the report.

The Pilaro family considered filing a federal civil rights lawsuit had the ruling not gone in their favour in a country where boys do not regularly play field hockey.
USA national men’s team coach Chris Clements backed Keeling’s bid to play.

He told AP: “Maybe by the time he gets to be a senior, it could be argued that there is a difference, but I would say right now he fits in just fine.”

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