Sunday 18 February 2018

Delaney's call for debate unlikely to raise whimper at convention

Michael Delaney, Leinster CEO
Michael Delaney, Leinster CEO

Comment Martin Breheny

MICHAEL Delaney has never been afraid to speak his mind, which is refreshing in an organisation like the GAA where too many administrators prefer to reflect opinion rather than shape it.

As Leinster CEO, he has, over many years, used his annual reports to challenge conventional thinking in a forthright manner. It didn't always do much for his popularity rating but surely having the courage to take an unpopular stand is an important leadership ingredient.

The Football Review Committee also displayed initiative and leadership in their deliberations - indeed they would probably have gone much further except for the fear that too many proposals for change would lead to virtually nothing being accepted. However, Delaney is unhappy with their findings on a number of fronts, led by what he regards as a failure to come anywhere close to offering a viable solution to the fixture chaos visited on club players.

He blames the All-Ireland qualifiers for many of the problems but then he has never been a fan of the 'back door'. He proposes a modification, only allowing counties who were beaten in provincial semi-finals and finals a second chance.


That would have ruled Galway, Sligo, Carlow, Laois, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath, Louth, Wicklow, Tyrone, Armagh, Derry, Antrim, Fermanagh, Limerick and Tipperary out of last year's qualifiers.

Delaney's own province would lose out most as no fewer than seven Leinster counties would be debarred from the qualifiers. It's difficult to see how counties would agree to a two-speed championship where entry to the qualifiers applied to relatively few. Also, the varying number of counties in the provinces adds to the difficulty of streamlining the championship.

Delaney is not impressed by allowing first-round casualties in Leinster and Ulster enter the Connacht and Munster championships, a view shared by many others. He expressed several strong opinions, all delivered in the interests of stimulating debate.

Of course, quite whether that happens is an altogether different matter since the GAA tends to largely ignore the views of those it places in positions of power.

Director-general Paraic Duffy issues his annual report today but how much consideration will it get at Congress next month? And how much discussion will there be on Delaney's comments at next Saturday's Leinster Convention? Not as much as there should be. "Let the debate begin," is the concluding line in his report.

Don't bank on it.

Irish Independent

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