George Byrne

Even as every second ad on TV and radio seems to be pushing presents for the upcoming festival, it's impossible to ignore the fact that the GAA is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Once De Duuubs had finally staggered out of Copperface Jack's sometime around the end of October, you'd think that that would be it for this organisation, but no -- they just can't help themselves.

First off we had the 'Blue Wave' initiative, which read like one of Stalin's Five Year Plans and considered taking action against Leinster's rugby team for daring to wear blue jersies, failing to cop that they've always worn that colour given that the provincial flag of Leinster is royal blue.

Then we had the plan to get all GAA heads to give up drink in January, a bright idea which would royally p**s off Guinness, who happen to give them shedloads of money to sponsor the bog hockey championship.

However, when it comes to thuggery and violence, the GAA just can't let it lie. They can try to gussy-up their 'image' all they want and bang on about how the parish and the local club are the beating heart of their vile sports and, by extension, the country, but one only has to look at recent events in club championships to see what lies beneath this veneer.

Parochial savagery is the order of the day here and I must say I laughed long and loud as veteran columnists tried to play the 'Ah lads, leave it out' card following assaults on referees and free-for-alls over the past few weekends.

The suits in C**** P*** can pretend all they want that their pastimes are something other than a semi-formalised version of faction fighting, but, deep down, they know that hatred and violence is what gets the fans' mojos working. Still, it's great fun watching them deny it.