Officials powerless to stop 'bogus' line-ups
THE GAA has conceded that it is powerless to act against counties that issue bogus team listings in advance of championship games.
In an irritating trend that misleads the media and the public, team announcements have become increasingly unreliable in recent seasons and despite requests from Croke Park for accurate information to be disseminated, issuing false teams could soon be the norm,
GAA director-general Paraic Duffy wrote to all county managers last week, urging them to co-operate in promoting the championships and specifically asked that they be as accommodating as possible with the media in order to ensure maximum coverage.
Mayo responded by releasing a bogus team for last Sunday's Connacht championship clash with Galway, naming Kevin Keane and Darren Coen on the starting 15 but replacing them with Tom Cunniffe and Alan Dillon respectively on match day. Ironically, news of the impending changes was readily available on Saturday
Despite the clear insult to the public attached to the false team subterfuge, there is no provision in the GAA rules to make it an offence.
"Even if you had a rule, it would be impossible to enforce it since a manager can always say that he had to make changes between announcing the team and match day due to injuries. Even if that's not the case, how do you prove it?
"We proposed a motion for Congress, requiring counties to name the team four days ahead of championship games but it wasn't passed (it got a 63-37pc majority but required 66pc)," said Duffy.
He admitted that the GAA was powerless to act against team managers who issue wrong teams but expressed unhappiness at a practice that risks antagonising the public and the media, both of whom are crucial to the promotion of the championships.
"Most county boards did a great job recently in organising open days where the public met players but when it comes to issuing teams they can only release what the managers give them. It seems some team managers think there's some advantage to be had by not giving out the correct team. We're not happy about it but there's nothing we can do other than appeal to them not to do it. We contact counties every Monday, urging them to issue teams as early as possible in order to help promote the game which is in everybody's interests. But obviously there's a concern when wrong teams are issued," said Duffy.
He accepted that if the practice continued there was a risk that the media would no longer carry team selections on the basis that they were being used to deliberately mislead their readers.
"We certainly don't want that. We need all the media coverage we can get," he said.