FOR such a small association on a tiny island, the GAA has an awful lot of what you might call snobbery.
This has raised its ugly head in the past north of the border where it has been claimed that only Ulster referees should referee Ulster football championship matches because other referees wouldn't understand how the game is played there. And there was another case last week at a meeting of the Cork County Board where there was some disquiet over the decision to retain the NHL status quo for next year.
At the meeting, the Irish Examiner reported, St Mary's delegate John Corcoran responded to Carlow captain Edward Coady's claim that Croke Park was right not to allow Cork to dictate the structure of the league by stating: "For somebody from Carlow to be lecturing Cork on hurling is akin to Jedward telling Pavarotti how to sing."
Now we don't know if Corcoran was playing to the crowd or just having a laugh, but if he was serious, the arrogance of that statement is nothing short of mind-boggling.
* * * * *
It's a big weekend for Sixmilebridge in Co Clare. Not only are they contesting the Munster hurling final today against Na Piarsaigh who are managed by Seán Stack, one of the greatest hurlers to come from the Parish, but last Friday night Fr Harry Bohan launched his book Swimming Upstream in the local GAA hall.
While the book focuses on a changed and changing Ireland, and the importance of the local community, there is an insightful chapter on the GAA. "All through its existence the GAA has been bound up with a sense of place, belonging and a sense of community," writes Bohan.
"This has bonded people together and given people stability. Today we live under a cloud of instability and confusion. We have witnessed a loss of trust in institutions, spiralling unemployment, the continuing collapse of a culture shaped by consumerism and borrowing.
"If we are to bring stability to society and security to our own lives, we will need to rediscover a sense of place and take pride in who we are and the culture that shapes us. Without a vision people die."
* * * * *
While former Shamrock Rovers player Stephen Grant was in America trying to win a PGA Tour card through the torturous Q-School route, Louth footballer Declan Byrne is making a name for himself on the courses here at home.
The inter-county star is a former All-Ireland pitch and putt winner who played off 12 as a juvenile. After taking a break from the game for a few years to concentrate on football, he returned to the course this year and was given a handicap of six. In a space of a few months he's knocked it down to three. Not bad for a someone who spends most of his time playing with the big ball.
* * * * *
AT 33, Ireland's goalkeeper David Forde may seem too old to be setting records, but if he can hold on to the No 1 jersey for another couple of years he could break a record that has stood for over 42 years.
Forde won his 15th cap last Tuesday, and only needs another eight to become Millwall's most capped player. The record is currently held – since 1971 – by Eamon Dunphy.
* * * * *
This year's All Star award winners will be departing for Shanghai without Cratloe dual players Conor McGrath, Podge Collins and Conor Ryan. The three lads have to play their Munster club final against Dr Crokes of Kerry next Sunday. These days, even the off season is in season for a lot of players.
* * * * *
AT last something has been done about the ridiculous situation in golf where members of the public are able to telephone officials to point out rule infringements they have spotted on television.
The R&A and the United States Golf Association have announced that, from the beginning of next year, players will not be penalised if slow-motion replays show that their ball has moved when at rest, but that the "movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time."
It won't entirely do away with the armchair police, but it is a step in the right direction.
Fergus McDonnell and Marie Crowe