GAA Congress 2019: Ban on county ground being used for sports other than hurling and gaelic football lifted
GAA county grounds has been given the same status as Croke Park as potential venues for games other than hurling and football.
Congress voted by 91-9 per cent majority to lift the ban on allowing county grounds to be used for non GAA sports, with Central Council now empowered to decide on applications on a case-by-case basis.
Up to now, the Congress interpretation of the rule on the use of property precluded other sports from being played at any ground other than Croke Park, which hosted Ireland’s ‘home’ rugby and soccer internationals between 2007 and 2010 while Lansdowne Road was being redeveloped.
A major controversy arose last year when an application to play the Liam Miller tribute soccer game in Pairc Ui Chaoimh was initially turned down. The GAA came under enormous public and political pressure to allow the fund-raiser go ahead at the recently-developed stadium and eventually relented, despite it being effectively against their own rules.
The embarrassing episode prompted Central Council to bring forward a proposal, which would empower them rather than Congress to decide on use of county grounds in what they termed ‘exceptional circumstances.’
Congress have now backed the proposal, thus enabling Central Council to make a quick decision on any applications that come before them. The rule change applies to county grounds only.
Proposing the motion, Pat Teehan (Offaly), Leinster Council vice-chairman and Central Council member, said that the GAA came in for ‘unfair and sustained’ criticism over the Liam Miller game last year.
“We were tried and convicted in the court of social media before we had a chance to put our side of the story,” he said.
He argued that it was in the GAA’s best interests to allow Central Council to decide on the use of county grounds, rather than making it a Congress function.
“We should place our trust in Central Council. They will ensure that the integrity of the rule is maintained,” he said.
Former GAA President, Sean Kelly also urged Congress to support the motion which, he said, would bring clarity to the situation for ever more.
“It will ensure that there is never a repeat of what happened with the Liam Miller game last year,” he said.
A broadly similar motion was beaten on a 67-23 per cent vote three years ago but, remarkably, nobody opposed it this time.