Colm O'Rourke: Where is the respect in a rule that sentences players to a life of slavery?
Rigid adherence by the GAA to the parish rule can no longer be justified, argues Colm O'Rourke
There is a speeding train coming down the tracks which has the potential to wreak havoc in the GAA. It is the parish rule which dominates all affairs in the Association. The traditional stand was that the parish you were born in decided your life for football or hurling purposes. There was no element of choice involved.
Recent cases in Kerry where young players were denied a move from their parish to play where they wanted ended up in the High Court; in Meath, a decision to allow underage players move to a neighbouring parish for football purposes caused a lot of controversy, while in Dublin the transfer saga of Eamon Fennell went on for years. These are only some of the cases which are bubbling under the surface in every county with officials at a loss what to do.
The GAA was largely built on parish rivalry in rural areas while cities like Dublin and Cork had fairly identifiable districts. It is all a bit more hazy now. Provincial towns have grown and the planning policy of many county councils is forcing people to live in towns whether they like it or not. Of course, it would make more sense from a social planning viewpoint if a small village was part of the planning of every rural parish.