Inter-pros given stay of execution as GAA confirm 2012 return
AFTER months languishing on death row awaiting execution, the GAA inter-provincial championships have been granted a dramatic reprieve.
Supporters of the 84-year-old competitions rallied in recent weeks and the campaign was rewarded last night when Central Council decided to retain them at their pre-Congress meeting in Mullingar.
It's unlikely that they will be played this year as the fixtures' calendar has already been set.
It's also a year in which the Irish International Rules team are due to travel to Australia, which further adds to the fixtures pressures in late October-early November.
However, the inter-pros will be played in 2012, after which a review of progress will be undertaken.
Last night was a special occasion for Liam O'Neill, who took over as president-elect. The Laois man was appointed without challenge.
He identified the need to get as many games as possible for players of all ages and grades as one of the main challenges facing the GAA.
"I would love to be able to walk up to players of all grades and say, 'Here's your fixtures schedule for the year'. It's achievable. Sometimes we tend to find reasons for not playing games rather than actually playing them," he said.
He also suggested that in order to help ease the load on younger players, it would be appropriate to revisit the possibility of reducing by a year the age limit for the minor and U-21 grades.
Meanwhile, a dispute between local residents and Croke Park over the handball centre beside the stadium escalated yesterday when a community group picketed the Mullingar Park Hotel. And they are contemplating a disruptive 'street carnival' on All-Ireland final day "to teach Croke Park that the streets belong to the people."
Members of the'Croke Park Streets Committee' handed out letters to Congress delegates detailing their grievances which said: "We are pleading with you to request Croke Park's 'pin-stripe bullies' to show some spark of decency and consideration for the community on whose backs they make so much money.
"We have grown to despise the money and power hungry (sic) Croke Park that constantly disrupts our lives and that have now stooped so low that they are trying to evict our community from the Handball & Community Centre that we have enjoyed and maintained for 40 years."
The residents claim to have invested over €4m in the centre over the years and say the GAA's €9m redevelopment of it would have no adequate community facilities and be totally controlled by Croke Park.