Saturday 27 August 2016

Time to replace this rulebook

Published 31/03/2008 | 00:00

Supporters watch yesterday's Monaghan v Meath game from various vantage points at Scotstown yesterday
Supporters watch yesterday's Monaghan v Meath game from various vantage points at Scotstown yesterday

ONE hates to be ranting on and on about non-games activities in the GAA because the vast majority of GAA people simply want to play, train and watch the actual games of hurling and football. But unfortunately it is impossible to divorce administration from playing in the GAA these days.

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I usually describe administration as GAA politics instead and maybe that is part of the problem. There is no doubt that at the present time the system of organising and regulating the GAA is worse than at any time in my lifetime and that's saying something.

Week after week we have rows, disputes, objections, appeals and every argument that can be dug up in order to frustrate the way the GAA organises itself.

We have the yellow and red card controversies which always arise in the National League, but largely disappear when the important players and referees are involved in the big championship games. We have people with straight red cards getting a couple of weeks' suspension or even getting off with no suspension at all. There are players being blamed by referees for committing serious crimes who are then completely cleared by the referee.

We have an array of GAA committees that would cause the UN to blush and most ordinary GAA fans have no idea what they do, who are members and what actual function they occupy. We have the DRA, which seems to be outside the GAA rulebook completely, and overall we have an open door for lawyers who thrive on the convoluted system of GAA administration which is slowly suffocating the organisation.

What the GAA needs to do urgently is scrap all the present rulebooks with all, their numbers, clauses, sections, subsections and by-laws. Hand-pick five or six sensible people (and I know that is asking a lot in GAA politics) and give them 12 months to draft a new GAA rule book which would would contain about 25% of the current one.

That group would consist of GAA people with no axes to grind and a couple of eminent legal people to protect the GAA's position in relation to the Irish Constitution and the EC Commission.

That would be the best one year's work ever done by the GAA, but knowing how GAA politics works I would not be hopeful. But how is it that so many major national sporting bodies can be so efficient and avoid so much controversy -- bodies like the English FA, the IRFU, the International Rugby Board, the Australian Football League, to name just a few. They all seem able to conduct their disciplinary business with excellent efficiency and punctuality, so why not the GAA?

It is because the GAA rulebook is a quagmire of inefficiency and a cesspit of local GAA politics which discredits the whole organisation at a time when it should be at its very highest esteem.

There is no better example of this than the total quagmire that has descended into the once wonderful Sigerson Cup, the third-level competition about which I can speak with some authority. It has been dragged through the mud by begrudgery and oneupmanship by people who claim they are very smart people with their third-level experience.

God help us all is all I can say!

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