Nemo 'under microscope' over rugby helping hand
clubs around the country, and particularly legendary Cork club Nemo Rangers, will be anxiously awaiting the results of the GAA's deliberations today on the thorny issue of sharing their facilities.
The GAA's Management Committee have clarified that the issue of Nemo allowing the Irish rugby team train in their facility last month is on their agenda. Even though there is nothing stopping GAA clubs using facilities belonging to other sports, the GAA's official guide still contains a rule specifically barring the opposite exchange.
Rule 5.1 states: "All property including grounds, clubhouses, halls, dressing-rooms and handball alleys owned or controlled by units of the Association shall be used only for the purpose of, or in connection with, the playing of games controlled by the Association".
This is the rule that had to be relaxed to allow soccer and rugby to be played in Croke Park and that derogation was only given for GAA's HQ. There are anecdotal reports that, for commercial reasons, many GAA clubs rent out their facilities to other sports, especially all-weather pitches to local soccer clubs.
Nemo Rangers have stressed that the Trabeg Sports Centre on their grounds, to which the Irish rugby team switched their training one day when their original venue was frozen over, is run by a "separate commercial operator."
GAA president Christy Cooney confirmed this week that Nemo will not be the only club "under the microscope" and that the entire issue would be addressed. But his tone hinted that the GAA may take a lenient approach to a rule many believe is out-of-tune with an increasingly pluralist association, if not downright hypocritical given how Croke Park has been rented out.
"We have had a lot of ambitious programmes put in place during the Celtic Tiger and, like any organisation, clubs are having their own challenges in managing their affairs so we have to look at how we deal with that moving forward," Cooney said.
That is a viewpoint that many clubs would welcome, but will not go down well with GAA hardliners who are expected to oppose a new proposal to extend the opening of Croke Park to other sports when it comes before Congress in three weeks time.