Friday 2 December 2016

Rules engagement should produce a happy marriage

Published 02/03/2008 | 00:00

Roll up, roll up for the Aussie express -- any half decent footballer get on board. Maybe it is not quite like that but there are plenty of GAA officials, particularly in Ulster, who seem to fear a mass exodus of all our young talent if the link with Australia is not immediately terminated and all maps burned.

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To these people, the International Rules series is the Trojan horse which allows the Aussie scouts embark on a campaign of rape and pillage which will destroy Gaelic football and reduce it to what some club teams were like in the Fifties and Sixties when we had the scourge of mass emigration. The make-up then was a lot of minors waiting to go, some in their 20s who did not want to work and the rest of the team made up of 30-somethings with knobbly knees and patched up with enough bandages to keep a Baghdad hospital going for a month.

Fifty years ago we had a system of assisted passage to Australia. It basically paid people to go down south so long as you stayed and worked. A hundred years earlier the passage was not so pleasant as you headed for Botany Bay or Van Diemen's Land -- six weeks on board and hard labour to follow but, for those who made it, life was probably a lot better than what they left.

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