A LOT of talk is doing the rounds as a result of the melee that took place under The Hill on the day of the Tipperary and Kilkenny Hurling semi-final the Sunday before last. Kilkenny manager Brian Cody described it as being the usual bit of pushing and shoving. He described the game as being made up of 'manly stuff'.
Now that's all very well for the winning manager to describe it as such, but to be honest it should be dealt with by the powers that be in Croke Park and the participating counties should be fined heavily. There should be no place in the GAA for this type of behaviour. This type of 'manly stuff' doesn't portray the game in its best light and should be stamped out.
Here we are seeing two of the traditional and best teams in the country engaging in this stupid behaviour in front of a huge crowd and a television audience looking forward to a great game from two of hurling's best teams. It's just not good enough and should not be tolerated.
And there is no point in blaming referees. Team managers and players will have to be responsible for their actions regardless of what rivalry exists between counties. Not so long ago I wrote about the game of hurling going the same way as football. Believe me, we are not far away from that happening if we are not going to allow the skilful player play the game.
Now, it has to be said that Kilkenny gave a massive display of hurling in the second half of that semi-final. It has often been said that Galway don't win All-Irelands because they are not tough enough. I would hope it would not be lost on hurling people that the game is gathering admiration around the world and that we have a product in hurling that can be sold commercially to television stations around the world, but only if we allow the skills be displayed for all to see.
I once said that we had the two best field games – well, we allowed Gaelic football to be destroyed by the overuse of the hand pass. I fear that if we are not careful we will do the same with the game of hurling.
Also, this last few days, we have heard a lot of talk, in particular from Ulster, in relation to the opening up of GAA grounds with regard to the possibility of Ireland hosting the Rugby World Cup.
Michael Greenan, the former Ulster Council Chairman, was very critical of certain elements of the GAA for even contemplating such a move, saying the Assocaitaion was "prostituting itself for money". Isn't that sad from a man that reached the highest office within the GAA in Ulster. Of course, this is the same Michael Greenan who refused to join in the standing ovation given to Sean Kelly at the end of his presidential term speech some years ago regarding the opening of Croke Park! That says it all.
I have often spoken about the tail wagging the dog and, in my view, people like Greenan need to take their head out of the sand (and anywhere else it might be). We have thousands of young people all over the world at the moment through forced emmigration and there is not a GAA club in any parish in Ireland that is not affected by this exodus of young people and this is only at a stage where the IRFU are considering a bid for such an event. Think of what such a World Cup would do for Ireland from a promotional point of view!
In fact the GAA should be looking at offering stadia to other areas of international sport to promote the country and not waiting for twenty years to become involved in such games. Why not co-operate also with the FAI and make a bid to host the soccer European Championship finals?
Central Council should be congratulated for looking at the big picture and dinosaurs like Michael Greenan should come into the real world. We are a small island country and we draw our support from a wide sporting culture that plays in all areas of sport – be that through participating or audience involvement.
Meanwhile, on the local scene all teams will be gearing up for the County Championship, which resumes at the weekend. Dr Crokes are clearly dead serious in their quest for the three-in-a-row after calling in Donie Buckley to do some training with the club. In my view, the Crokes will be favourites to win the Championship and it will take a supreme effort from some team to beat them but sport has a way of kicking you up the backside.
From a Kerry point of view the Championship will be watched with great interest to see if we can unearth some talent that can work its way onto the Kerry team, and I mean the team! We have been of late getting fellows to the panel stage only for them to disappear off it again the following year. So let's hope we have a few players out there with statements to make. There are some intriguing doubleheaders planned this weekend and next and it will be good for the GAA supporter to get back out on the local club scene.
Next week I will have a look back at how our neighbours, Cork, got on in their All-Ireland semi-final with Donegal, and cast an eye on the Dublin versus Mayo semi-final next week.