The GAA Has Kinda Annoyed Me This Week…

Posted on July 18, 2010

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Belittling The Organisation

When Christy Cooney finally decided to speak about the Leinster Football Final farce during the week I had a feeling, in fact I just knew that he was going to make the situation worse. Or at least anyone that read between the lines of his words would see it that way.

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While I do not condone the actions of the Louth supporters who entered the field of play I can’t say I don’t understand their sentiment. Christy Cooney accused these people of “belittling our organisation” which is a fair point to make given the circumstance. Notice also his use of the word “our”, trying to emphasise, no doubt the grass roots element of the GAA – us, the common people who make it work at local level.

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However, let’s think a little about these remarks. It took Cooney, the president of the GAA, the supposed main man in the organisation four days to make any statement in regards to the debacle we witnessed on Sunday last. Four days! I wonder would it have taken as long had Dublin, Kerry or Cork been involved.

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I wrote a letter at the start of the week which I sent to one of the national papers – it wasn’t used but that’s beside the point. The letter is reproduced below:

GAA Has Chance to set standard on Fair Play

Dear GAA

I would like to apply for the job of umpire. While I cannot claim to have 20/20 vision, I have taken the initiative to invest in corrective lenses meaning that I do have the ability to see things like sliotars going the wrong side of goalposts and footballs that have been thrown rather than kicked into the net.

My heart goes out to Louth. I fear there is no crueller way to lose than the way experienced by them. In relation to this I must make the point that the GAA have been handed a marvellous opportunity here to re-enforce their position as an amateur organisation run by professionals.

With all the talk of fair play that we’ve heard during the world cup and of course our own predicament with France, the GAA have the chance to show those professional organisations how fair play is supposed to work.

But if the heinous result of today’s Leinster Final stands, I would also like to apply for a job in the CCCC.

Anna Hayes

Wexford

The point I was trying to make in this letter was that the GAA did have a great opportunity to set a standard, a precedent of how the model of Fair Play should operate. The GAA’s central council should have stepped in and, on the strength of the referees report (who admitted he was wrong) ordered the replay.

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Leaving the decision to the Meath County Board stinks of indecision, indifference and just plain inability to deal with a tricky situation. In short, the amateur organisation who claims to pride itself on its professionalism can no longer do so. It’s like a teacher discovering a fight in school but rather than chastise the one who started it, leaves them to sort it out themselves.

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While I am disappointed at Meath’s decision, I can agree that the GAA put them in a very difficult position. There will be a certain stigma surrounding them now for the rest of the championship and I can’t lie to you, I do hope they get Kerry next. But the GAA too should see some sort of setback in this whole fiasco. Louth’s next game will be interesting.

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While there are heroes and villains on both sides, (and in the middle and on the end lines) the supporters need to remember that it was not their players or anyone else’s players who let them down, but the organisation in which they are encompassed.

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In this way, Christy Cooney’s remarks were ill-advised. I would go so far as to say that by accusing the Louth fans such, he is actually belittling the organisation himself, not just by passing the buck but by failing to implement the beliefs of those who are part of ‘our’ organisation. Think about it, what kind of percentage of people in Ireland do you think would vote for a replay if given the choice?

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The belittling of the organisation lay not only in the supporter’s behaviour but the administrators as well.

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You’re Charging Me HOW much?

It’s been an interesting week of GAA talk and deliberation. An article in one of the more rag-like newspapers today (or possibly yesterday) suggested that the GAA’s cutbacks were partly to blame for the referees assault last Sunday. It may well be the case.

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But the point I want to make here is that when I walked into Wexford Park today I was about to be charged €25 for a qualifier game. Thankfully I had my student card so that fee was reduced to €15 but not everyone has that luxury.

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Considering the fact that all we hear every day, every week and every month is recession, recession, recession, the GAA does not seem to be copping on to the fact that some people are actually affected by this cursed economic climate. €25 for a qualifier game is, in my opinion, daylight robbery.

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This time last year, I was charged €25 for a qualifier ticket but the difference was, I got a football game, a hurling game and a camogie game. In other words, value for money. But charging such a price for one game is pure and utter extortion.

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And then the GAA have the cheek to complain about the small crowds the matches get?

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Could someone please buy them a newspaper – preferably with the financial section wide open.

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Griffin & Considine Add Their Tuppence Ha’Penny

Listening to the weekend preview on Friday, I heard Liam Griffin and Tony Considine adding their thoughts to the Louth-Meath fiasco and I was impressed with both inputs.

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Tony Considine very clearly made the point that umpires, rather than being friends with the referee should be selected from a pool of young referees, bidding for inter county refereeing in the future. Not only would you have someone who can (a.) see and (b.) know the rules behind the goal but they themselves would also have bid day experience for any future forays they may have as men in the middle. It was a good point. He also stated that referees should be publicly chastised in the way that players are but I don’t agree with this for two reasons. One, it’s hard enough to find referees considering the abuse they can be given. And two, you will find that Martin Sludden will probably never be seen on a field again. Or if he is, it will be the U-10 Feile First Round. The GAA handle such affairs internally.

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Liam Griffin, a man who I’ve always admired also spoke on the situation and made the point that he was disappointed with Meath’s decision during the week. Then in that impassioned way that I think only he can do, he declared that he would have immediately offered the replay because winning the way Meath did was dishonest. And I believe that he would offer a replay, though trying to get such a motion passed in the Wexford County Board would be akin to searching for hen’s teeth.

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Golden Oldies

Lastly, let me draw your attention to one Tony Browne. At 37 years of age, Browne successfully fielded more high ball in the extra time period of yesterdays Munster Final replay than either of Cork’s ‘Twin Towers’.

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And as if that wasn’t enough, he damn near lost his head with an incredibly brave block on a shot which looked fairly certain to be heading for the net. Rewind a week and it was Browne who scored the equalising goal to bring this Final to a replay. Cork must surely have had nightmare of the All Ireland Quarter Final in 2007 when a late, questionable free gave Waterford a second chance and they came back the following week to beat their old rivals substantially.

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If there’s one thing you have to admire in Waterford, it’s their heart. They never give up and while I don’t buy into all this kissing the crest business (I think it’s too much like soccer) I won’t fault their determination and spirit. It’s what won the match for them last night and it’s what has won so many big matches for them in the past.

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Speaking of that game in ’07 and golden oldies, Ken McGrath must be mentioned. One of the greatest players I have ever seen, McGrath made a catch in one of those games (I’m not sure which) that was the closest thing to pure perfection I have ever seen in my life. Tracking back after his player, the ball was coming over his head but he had his back to it. But, as if by a honing device, he stuck his hand out in front of him and caught. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in a game of hurling and I’ve tried hunting it down on Youtube but to no luck.

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Wexford hit the headline for having a hurling porn star a few weeks back. Ken McGrath’s catch in that game is what hurling porn really is.

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