Thursday 27 July 2017

Embarrassing trophy ruling holds the GAA up to ridicule

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The GAA invites applications from suitably qualified persons to work as silver craft adjusters. Responsibilities to include altering cups and trophies so as to render them incapable of holding liquids of any kind.

Apply to: Decommissioning of Cups as Weapons of Mass Drinking Dept, Croke Park, Dublin 3.

The vacancies arise from last weekend's Congress decision to launch a vigorous onslaught on the time-honoured tradition of celebrating success with a swig from the precious silverware. A rule was already in place declaring it illegal to fill cups with any alcoholic drinks and was punishable by a 12-week ban for any miscreant who tipped a tot -- large or small -- into a trophy.

Of course it was impossible to apply the rule even if anybody had the appetite to attempt to ascertain who exactly emptied that bottle of champagne into the Junior B cup. Besides, the evidence would have disappeared very quickly.

Step forward Shannon Gaels, home club to the parishes of Killinagh, Glangevlin and Doobally in Cavan, complete with a proposal, which was backed by the County Convention, for a significant addition to the rule: "All cups or trophies shall be altered to prevent the placing of any liquids therein."

DEMON

It formed the last two lines of the 123 motions, which took up 22 pages of the Congress agenda. Now history shows that if you want to get something through Congress, the best time to hit is late on Saturday afternoon, just as it's about to wrap up and concentration is at its most lax. Sure enough, Shannon Gaels got their way and it was agreed to alter cups to prevent the demon drink being tossed into them.

The discussion centred on the need to prevent alcohol being poured into trophies for under-age competitions in particular, but the motion which was passed was unequivocal -- the ban includes ALL cups.

In effect then, every cup from Sam Maguire to Liam McCarthy to Junior D will require modification to prevent them being used as alcohol-based celebration instruments. In practical terms, they will be either fitted with permanent lids or have tiny holes bored in them! The GAA leadership were unable to say specifically how or when the 'alterations' would take place. In fairness, how could they? This is a new challenge and charts are sketchy in barmy territory.

It does, however, conjure up an interesting image of a concerted dawn swoop across the length and breadth of the land as an elite Trophy Alteration Unit batters down doors, screaming 'go, go, go' before seizing cups from sideboards and getting to work with specialist equipment under the startled gaze of bemused captains who have been woken from their sleep.

Michael Fennelly and Darran O'Sullivan be warned -- the unit could be coming your way soon to begin work on Sam and Liam.

The basis of Cavan's argument is that the link between celebration and alcohol is far too close at a time when drink-related issues are causing many problems in the country, the GAA should take a stand against having its trophies used as receptacles.

In reality, it holds the GAA up to ridicule. Does anybody seriously believe that altering cups will make the slightest difference to the consumption of alcohol? The new Sunday night sport after teams win trophies will be to devise means of rendering the cups back in use for celebration purposes.

The GAA also risks accusations of hypocrisy for continuing to allow Guinness sponsor the All-Ireland hurling championships while taking steps to stop alcohol being poured into cups.

Also, many GAA clubs have their own bars which help fund their activities, while those who don't are closely linked with their local pubs, both as sponsors and as venues for meetings, lotto draws etc.

The connection between pub and club has always been there and while their agendas are different, it doesn't mean they can't work to the mutual benefit of both. Indeed, in most cases, they do so fruitfully.

The GAA has shown tremendous leadership in the fight against alcohol abuse through various initiatives in recent years and should have left it at that. Instead, it has decided to interfere with its trophies in a worthless move which only serves to embarrass a great many members.

It's easy to pass high-minded motions which major in symbolism but which, in reality, are worthless, a category into which this new rule will definitely fall. Besides, now comes the hard part as Croke Park, provincial councils, county boards and colleges competition organisers set about 'altering' their cups. What a pure waste of time, energy and money.

That Cavan should sponsor the motion wasn't without irony. As one cynical observer noted afterwards: 'What the hell are Cavan worrying about -- sure they don't win any cups." Ouch!

Kerry Congress Veteran queries new murphy's law

GERALD McKenna has been one of the more colourful -- and wiser -- characters at GAA Congresses and Central Council meetings for many years but before stepping down as Kerry representative from the latter under the five-year rule last weekend, he showed that his wit is as sharp as ever.

Responding to a contribution from Cork county secretary Frank Murphy, who prefaced his remarks by saying that he had been instructed by his county to make certain points on a motion, McKenna piped up: "Holy God, what's Congress coming to when Frank Murphy says he's being instructed?"

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