26 Sept 2022

Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: Ahead of ‘Towards 2034’ GAA has many issues to address

Mattie Fox

Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox

The GAA are presently sitting on a report that is a proposed blueprint for the future of the association.

The report entitled ‘Towards 2034 - the 150th Anniversary of the GAA’ has yet to be published.

Seán Moran, Irish Times Gaelic Games correspondent, recently revealed that he caught sight of the report and wrote extensively on the proposals contained therein.

It’s a weighty document, covering many issues.

The report was commissioned by former GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail, and is now under the stewardship of current President John Horan.

The committee that compiled the report was chaired by former INTO general secretary John Carr and they reported back to the GAA in January.

The GAA is coming under pressure on several fronts, and no doubt some of the ‘Towards 2034’ proposals will spark controversy and wide ranging debate.

There are many issues needing to be addressed, among them the playing rules.

Indeed, some of these need to be rectified immediately.

The ones that need addressing are:

(a) allowing a player pull or drag down an opponent close to the end of games. This is a serious blight on legitimately winning or losing games, including All Irelands.

Under the current practice, it pays to foul deliberately. Illegal behaviour, as defined by the rules, is, by default, encouraged.

The game is crying out for some well thought out measure that punishes, properly, the offending team.

Maybe a twenty metre free straight in front of the goals, irrespective of where the foul occurs, might make offenders think.

Possibly it could be confined to the last quarter of the game in respect of general players.

But, that rule should also be applied to fouling opposition before the kickout, to prevent that team winning the kick out. This should apply for the last five minutes, of the game, plus any extra time.

(b) is the payment of managers. This arrangement whereby the manager is expected, under the current rule book, to accept travel expenses only, is farcical.

I wonder how many managers in the current climate are working or are prepared to work free gratis?

(c) is the naming of a false team before the game. This is easily resolved, by treating any changes as substitutions, and by placing a date on the naming of a team. Moreover, a heavy fine should be levied on any county board that makes more than one substitution before a game.

(d) clubs are struggling to raise finance, at a time when the GAA is thankfully the most successful sport in Ireland. Adding millions to the kitty every year.

Something has to be done for clubs, before they are wiped out entirely.

I’d also love to know why Longford, for example – and I’m being perhaps parochial here – are allocated so many northern referees.

Why does this happen so frequently?

In recent games versus Armagh and Fermanagh, decisions were made in the final moments which didn’t please anyone from Longford. It’s very strange indeed.

The payments to players is a recurring hoary old chestnut, another making fodder for those who want to knock the GAA, since obviously several counties are in the business of sourcing cars, holidays, and some even create a situation where guys train and go home to bed afterwards.

I’m not saying any of that is wrong, but it defies the description of amateur.

The fixtures plan, we won’t even try to address.

It does the GAA no favours, never mind players who have to endure terrible conditions playing in those games that manage to go ahead, often after waiting days for a decision.

Forecasting weather has become increasingly scientific and highly accurate nowadays, and why the GAA persists with leaving games that are clearly under threat, in the schedule until the very last minute is beyond anyone who watches the weather.

obody should have to travel sixty miles to be told that the game is off.

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