PARAIC DUFFY has launched an impassioned defence of the GAA against those critics who peddle the "crudest forms of stereotyping" when attacking Gaelic games and their supporters.
The director-general also criticised some of the association’s own members who blame the GAA for not offering a ready-made solution when Ireland’s current economic woes leave players out of work and clubs or county boards lumbered with massive debts.
In his annual report, unveiled today, Duffy cites the “excessive coverage” of the recent All-Ireland JFC club semi-final – between Derrytresk and Dromid Pearses - as an example of how some commentators are ever-ready to jump on an anti-GAA bandwagon.
“These were disagreeable incidents, and no one in authority in the GAA will seek to minimise what occurred,” writes Duffy. “But the gap between what actually occurred and the presentation of what occurred was conspicuous. The incident became an unmissable opportunity in certain quarters to target the GAA and to indulge in the crudest forms of stereotyping of supporters of Gaelic games.
“That said, one should not dwell at length on the disparaging caricatures emanating from the minds of the envious, the very coarseness of which is surely a sign of how much the popularity of Gaelic games enrages them.”
Later in his report, the Monaghan official directs his criticism closer to home. “There are a few too many units, officials, managers and ex-players who are a little too quick to use the media to criticise the association,” he complains.
“It’s as if to be interviewed by a journalist, or to have a regular media forum, necessarily means adopting a negative attitude towards the GAA, or that a balanced assessment of an issue is neither expected nor possible.
“So it is that the association is attacked by some GAA people for not finding jobs for our unemployed members, as if we were in a position to do what the entire economy of the country cannot manage to do,” Duffy pointedly writes.
“So it is, too, that we are criticised for not paying off the debts of clubs and counties, as if we had an inexhaustible fund of money.And so it is, finally, that the GAA and its decisions are the object of unrelenting internal criticism, as if we always got everything wrong.
“It is clearly pointless explaining to these commentators that, for example, the association at all levels does its best to help unemployed players, and that Central Council sends out considerable sums of money to support counties and clubs.”
“One might hope that some of our own members who regularly comment on GAA affairs would give some consideration to the notion of loyalty to the GAA, and to the damage that their routinely negative comments cause to the reputation of the association. It is striking that this negative attitude is not nearly as prevalent in other sports.”