Managers hit out against unfair trial by television
AN overwhelming majority of GAA managers believe that trial by television is unfair on players, and that The Sunday Game has a direct influence on the disciplinary process.
In a detailed survey conducted by the Sunday Independent, 85 per cent of inter-county managers felt that RTE's Sunday night highlights programme was exerting undue influence on the GAA's decision to suspend players.
Furthermore, over two-thirds said that using video evidence to punish players was unfair, believing that due to a lack of consistency the system is a flawed method for dealing with onfield misdemeanours missed by the referee.
In the wake of the Paul Galvin suspension in June, Seamus Woods, chairman of the CCCC, claimed: "It is ridiculous to suggest that what may be highlighted on The Sunday Game would not be seen elsewhere, or would somehow not otherwise come into the public domain.
"It is equally disingenuous to imagine that the CCCC would be oblivious of any particular incident, and that such an incident would remain a state secret but for The Sunday Game."
However, this does not appear to wash with managers and it is clear that the issue of trial by television is still very much a hot topic.
A former All-Ireland winning manager stated that he was fed up with the spotlight always falling on the big teams. He felt that it pitched them at a disadvantage for the championship but conceded that if all games were televised then it could be an acceptable form of judgement.
"If every game was televised then it would be fine but they are not so it can't work fairly," said one manager of an Ulster hurling team.
Another successful manager felt that unless the CCCC were prepared to sit down on a Monday and go through every tape of every game then retrospective punishment could not be seen as acceptable.
The survey was conducted over the last two weeks. A list of ten questions was compiled for all inter-county managers of hurling and football teams from this year's championships. A total of 55 managers completed the survey.
Another key finding which is sure to disappoint GAA chiefs is the high level of dissatisfaction among managers with the standards of refereeing: 77pc felt the referees were inadequate.
A common complaint was centred on the different application of rules in the league compared to the championship.
One high-profile manager felt that yellow and red cards are thrown out "willy nilly" during the league but when the championship comes around, then the referees are far more reserved.
"We train hard for the league and see it as vital preparation for championship so it shouldn't be used as a practice ground for referees," he said.
Another manager felt that the referees' committee should be scrapped and replaced with a new body independent of Croke Park headed up by a well-respected GAA figure with plenty of experience.
There was a high level of discontent amongst the lower-tiered teams in football and hurling, especially with the appointment of referees.
"When you compare the standards of refereeing in the lower and upper levels of GAA, there is a huge gulf evident," said one disgruntled manager. "We are stuck with the referees that are not seen as good enough for the big games and that's not fair."
On the topical issues of payments to managers, although 64 per cent believe they are not adequately reimbursed by county boards, every one of the 55 managers said the only payments they receive are their legitimate expenses.
Surprisingly, despite a series of managerial upheavals in recent times, only 79 per cent of managers are concerned about the threat of player power.
One former player turned manager said: "Players are looking for excuses because they don't want to take the slack so they use the manager as a scapegoat."
Meanwhile, former Meath under 21 boss Gerry Cooney looks set to be confirmed as the county's new senior manager on Wednesday night.
Cooney, who has former players Darren Fay, Finian Murtagh and Andy McEntee on standby to join his backroom team, is likely to be confirmed as Eamonn O'Brien's successor ahead of former Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney at a county board meeting.