Where Are The So-Called Professionals?

Posted on April 22, 2010

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The GAA has long been recognised as “an amateur organisation run by professionals” but this status is in sore and dire danger following the powers that be’s decisions regarding this year’s league hurling finals.

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Picture, if you will, Thurles. Grand oul’ spot, to be fair. But now think about the four teams involved in the finals: Wexford, Clare, Cork and Galway. None of those four teams of supporters have a short drive to the grounds, Clare might be the shortest but you’re still talking about well over an hour.

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I myself will make the trip back to Wexford after the second game (which will mean it’ll probably be about 9 o’clock when I hit the road) and should be the best part of 2 ½ hours. That is of course providing I don’t get lost on the way home – I have the worst sense of direction in the world. If I was looking for Mars, I’d probably end up on Pluto.

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But back to giving out about the GAA, something which I do very regularly, but usually on a local level when I’m complaining about certain clubs that anyone who knows me will know who I’m talking about…

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Now, I’ve a lot of grá for the GAA. After all, it was my thesis topic and I got a first in it so happy enough. But my god, they really can do stupid things when they want to. The latest is the scheduling of the Division 2 and Division 1 League Hurling Finals at 5pm and 7pm respectively. It seems that Galway are the only team kicking up about it – Cork don’t seem to have an opinion, nor do Clare or Wexford but then again, being from the latter county I reckon there are members on that county board who couldn’t spell ‘opinion’ no less say have one. Closest possibility would probably be an ‘onion’. I have a couple of (non-eloquent) qualms myself:

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  1. There is no short drive home for any of the counties involved in the finals. If you’re from Clare or Wexford and you’re anyway right in the head, you’ll be staying for the second game which looks set to be a cracker. So it means a mass exodus from Semple Stadium around 9 o’clock meaning roads being backed up and lots of traffic on the respective roads home. Now this might be short-strawing it a bit, but such is the nature of bank holiday Sundays that there are always idiots on the road who like to take chances as regards drink-driving. Now I’m not saying that match spectators are going to be drink-driving, though stranger things have happened. But they are adding to the level of traffic that will be on the road at dangerous times by having these matches on so late in the evening.

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  1. What’s wrong with the Bank Holiday Monday? Have the matches at 1pm and 3pm and it still means that even the furthest away will have themselves and kids home earlier enough for bed so they can go to school/work the next day. In addition to that, what else would you be doing on a Bank Holiday Monday apart from nursing a hangover?

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  1. The fact that the matches were scheduled to suit the Heineken Cup Rugby semi finals (though I’m not sure if that’s the official explanation given by the GAA) is a worrying one. The GAA has always prided itself on being the cultural, national sport of Ireland, brandishing its cultural heritage as the most important aspect of its existence.

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Hmmmm…surely the fact that the GAA has arranged its matches to suit the rugby means that they are not strictly comfortable in this assertion? What it, of course, could also mean, and this has been something I looked at in my thesis, is that the cultural aspect of the GAA is not quite as important as the commodification of that culture. Yes, the finals would probably stand to lose some viewers to the rugby matches but that’s where choice has to come in for those viewers. They either follow the cultural heritage or they don’t.

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What’s also suspicious about this is that the biggest rugby follower of the four teams involved would certainly be Cork, a county which we’ve seen the GAA bow to before now (I’m not getting into that here though). Though in this case I’m sure there are many people from all sides wondering why the GAA is parrying to the whim of the Rugby Union. It’s not good for the GAA if they are going to inconvenience many to convenience a few.

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In short, I’ll still be going to the League Finals (It doesn’t appear that I have a choice in the matter – I have two passengers who booked their seats in my car long before I knew what was going on!) but I daresay if I’m back for closing time that Sunday night, I’ll be doing very well indeed.

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But hey, at least the GAA are contributing to cutting down on drink intake this coming May Bank Holiday.