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Co-captains puzzled by GAA’s ‘nonsensical’ trophy-lifting rule

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Tom Morrissey and Dan Morrissey lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup after Limerick's victory over Waterford in last year's All-Ireland SHC final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Tom Morrissey and Dan Morrissey lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup after Limerick's victory over Waterford in last year's All-Ireland SHC final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Tom Morrissey and Dan Morrissey lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup after Limerick's victory over Waterford in last year's All-Ireland SHC final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Among the weighty and - by GAA standards anyway - radical motions passed at Congress last Saturday, one curious and relatively minor rule also came into being.

In doing so, it became the abiding story of the event.

From last weekend, joint or multiple captains will not be permitted on podiums at GAA grounds when a trophy is being handed over.

Why?

GAA Ard Stiúthóir Tom Ryan explained on Saturday that Motion 7 was designed to “tidy up presentation around matches.”

Given all that the organisation has on its plate just now, it seems remarkable that anyone was motivated enough to design and propose such a motion.

“My first instinct was, I didn’t understand really where it was coming from,” says Matthew O’Hanlon, co-captain of the Wexford hurlers, along with Lee Chin.

“That there were other issues at a GAA Congress level that should be given a higher priority than that.

“But in essence, it doesn’t really bother me. It doesn’t bother Lee. We’re nominated by our peers and selected by our management to lead the team. We’re still going to lead our team in that way.”

Co-captains in the GAA are not uncommon.

In 2014, Kieran O’Leary and Fionn Fitzgerald held up Sam Maguire after Kerry were last crowned All-Ireland champions.

More recently, O’Hanlon and Chin lifted the Bob O’Keeffe Cup for the Wexford hurlers after the 2019 Leinster final, painting themselves into the iconography of the county given it was their first provincial title in 15 years.

The pair will continue to share the role in 2021, meaning that any further success under Davy Fitzgerald will result in one of O’Hanlon or Chin being denied the honour of lifting another trophy for Wexford.

“It’s a good problem to have if it comes to us having to lift a trophy and decide which one of us goes up,” notes O’Hanlon. “Because it just means that we’re after winning something. So we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

“But yeah, overarching feeling is (it’s) nonsensical. I don’t really understand where it came from and why it was a big pain point for people in given counties.

“But the decision is passed now. So there’s no real point in complaining. We just move on with it.”

Already though, the rule is being prodded and probed.

Speaking at the launch of a new Strategic Plan, Wexford chairman Micheál Martin revealed that one county, Longford, had already indicated that they would seek a “deviation from rule when required.”

As Martin noted: “Anytime we bring in a rule (where) deviations are required, immediately it probably means that we may need to rethink as an Association whether the motion is actually practical or not.”

Martin also admitted the rule proposal had gone “under the radar in advance of Congress,” noting it was “a pity in terms of the immediate aftermath of Congress, that this decision seemed to dominate,” the coverage.

He added that “a degree of clarification required around how this motion is going to be implemented.”

“It caught a lot of people by surprise that it wasn't going to be debated on Congress floor. Mea culpa, I wasn't aware of that so we will just have to address it rather than waiting for six months down the line.”


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