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Congress on verge of being irrelevant

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Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill

Croke Park went nine years without hosting Congress and when it finally bridged the gap last weekend, the contrast could scarcely have been starker.

The 2005 version made the historic decision to open up Croke Park to rugby and soccer; the 2014 equivalent considered whether October 31 was the best date for clubs to close their financial year. Granted, the latter was a minor housekeeping matter, but then most of the 64 motions were of a technical nature.

There was no really big-ticket item that would make a major impact on the Association. And while that can happen in certain years, there was a feeling that with the exception of the presidential election, the whole business could have been conducted by a much smaller group.

Instead, 325 delegates were present for the presidential election on Friday night (quite a few had departed by Saturday) and, yet again, only a minority spoke.

Congress was prevented from discussing one of the more contentious issues (the 'Anthony Nash rule') when Central Council removed it from the agenda on Friday night. Instead, Central Council members will themselves deal with it next month.

It really does raise the question of whether Congress is remotely fit for purpose. There is substantial evidence to suggest that it's not, but since Congress itself is the only body that can change the system, the source of the problem is pretty obvious.

One of the more interesting discussions arose in an area which wasn't even on the agenda in motion form.

A brief debate under the "policy topics for discussion" centred on whether Congress 2015 should consider preventing counties being represented in the provincial championship if they hadn't completed their local programmes by a certain date.

The signs were not encouraging. Everyone agrees that the chaotic club fixtures schedules need to be addressed, but if solving it involves tough decisions which take on vested interests, then don't expect progress any time soon.

"There's a problem there and we need to address it," said Liam O'Neill. Good luck with that, Liam.

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While Congress 2014 certainly won't go down as one of the more memorable GAA gatherings, it was a special occasion for Aogán ó Fearghail who became the first Cavan man to be elected GAA president.

He made a good start in his post-election speech and will now retreat to begin putting his plans in place for when he takes over from O'Neill next February.

"I would be an advance planner. I don't intend to start planning just a month before I take over the presidency," he said.


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