Friday 13 December 2019

President's voice must be heard on state of modern game

There seems to be an interesting squabble developing between some of the top football team managers and some players and the leaders of the GAA regarding the state of present-day football.

Several managers and players have been vocal in recent months, assuring the public that football is currently in a wonderful state, the best the game has been for about 20 years.

The basis for these views seems to come largely from watching the TG4 games of the 1960s and 1970s when -- according to the present-day 'experts' -- the games were slow, lacking in finesse and just plain hard to watch.

Since Liam O'Neill took over as GAA president, he has been in the sights of several managers and players.

The argument seems to be that somebody like the GAA president has no right to be sticking his nose into football matters. Only managers and players are allowed to make comments about the game, because they know the real situation -- as they see it.

Of course, the thousands who watched big county games yesterday -- and those who will watch in the months to come -- might beg to differ about that, but then their views never rate with managers anyway.

How many of them are constantly telling us all that "we are not here to entertain -- my job is to win matches." How right they are. But the notion that O'Neill -- or, indeed, director general Paraic Duffy -- should not be free to speak publicly, or write, about the state of Gaelic football without being lectured by team managers is simply arrogance.

These men, and other leading officials, have a duty to ensure that football and hurling are in the best shape possible.

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Team bosses lecturing the GAA president about his right to talk about football is just a further indication that the real power brokers in the GAA nowadays are the managers, and some of them are growing more and more autocratic in areas like club fixture-making.

Thankfully, they still do not have the power to tell a GAA president what to do -- not yet at least.

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