Thursday, June 01, 2006

Another Lame-ass GAA Controversy

I always think it is something to do with the amateur ethos of gaelic games, the annual appearance of a silly affair or controversy that is, which generally involves some misinterpretation of an obscure article of the GAA disciplinary code or rulebook. Because there are is no transfer gossip to fill up the column inches and airtime demanded by the public's voracious enthusiasm for the games, we must (as well as the bread and butter of team selections) instead dissect and consider the wheretofores of substitute misuse, was-it-a-point? controversies, high court suspension appeals, referee watch malfunctions etc.

Were the GAA a fully professional organisation the attention of the media this week would have been devoted to more pressing matters.

This week we would have been transfixed by the tapping-up scandal involving Dublin and Gooch Cooper. The gifted Kerry forward would have been papped in the restaurant of the Morrison Hotel, surrounded by sharp-suited minders, deep in conversation with his agent and the moneybags Dubs' oleaginous chief executive.

Or we could have been shaking our heads at the latest carry-on of the Roscommon footballers, allegedly implicated in a 'roasting' scandal involving Polish escorts, the night before a Bank of Ireland Premier Division clash against Galway at the Hyde Arena.

Or we could have been looking on at the plight of Declan Browne, whose come-and-get-me-plea to Tyrone has seen him ostracised by his own county, left to rot in the Juniors.

But no, this week it is the minutiae of the blood substitution rule and the labyrinthe GAA process which we are following. Ok, maybe that is no bad thing. Let us hope that roasting in the GAA is confined to the nice cut of beef on the table before heading off to match of a Sunday.

But the point remains: the GAA has created a professional environment in terms of player preparation and commitment, and in terms of the media and public attention which surrounds the field of play. But this professional superstructure is oiled and maintained by clueless buffoons with flourescent bibs of the type who allowed (and of course Offaly themselves bear some responsibility for the fiasco, but they did ask an official for approval and would surely have felt on safe ground when making the ill-fated final change) Sunday's error to take place.

The amateur, volunteer ethos is, of course, the glue which affords the organisation is strength. But the absence on the sidelines on occasions like Sunday's Leinster Championship fixture - with all the familiar attention and importance attached to it - of officials capable of administering and monitoring the status of the substitutes properly is profoundly unacceptable and will continue to result in annual reprises of the sort of dumb controversy we're now enduring.

Ok the tapping-up affairs and the roasting scandals we don't need; but how about a couple of half-decent fourth officials?


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