Saturday 7 December 2019

A powerful dictator would come in useful in Galway row

Joe Canning and his Portumna colleagues have already reached the final
Joe Canning and his Portumna colleagues have already reached the final
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

What would have happened this year if Connacht had a senior hurling club championship, involving all five counties?

Presumably, it would have gone ahead without Galway, whose clubs have won 12 of the last 25 All-Ireland titles. After all, no province could wait for a county that remains locked at the quarter-final stage (one side of the draw) in early November and who can't give a definite timescale for the completion of their championship.

The problem in Galway relates to a dispute over the eligibility of a Turloughmore player who lined out in New York this year. The crux has stalled one side of the draw at the quarter-final stage, where Ardrahan are waiting to discover whether they will play Turloughmore or Beagh.

Gort await the winners in the semi-final, while Joe Canning and his Portumna colleagues have already reached the final. It's frustrating to the point of distraction for all the clubs involved, especially Ardrahan, Gort and Portumna, who are not directly involved in the dispute.

Still, they have to remain in training, without knowing when their next game will be. It's ruining the season for all of them, yet there's nothing they can do except wait.

The dispute has been twice through Galway's and the Connacht Council's internal procedures and also had a run-out with the DRA, which is likely to return to the fray.

Clearly, it's all very complicated, but surely it should be possible to work through it much more quickly? Was the Turloughmore player illegal or not? Why is it so difficult to reach a definite conclusion?

International sports are able to sort out major issues quite quickly, but the GAA, top-heavy with democratic mechanisms, often find it incredibly difficult to settle the most routine conflicts.

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The upshot in Galway is that their hurling championship remains stuck in the November mud, with no quick way out as the days shorten, the weather deteriorates and games become more of a lottery with each passing week.

At the very least, it's likely to be December before the final is played, scarcely a fitting setting for the county's showpiece game. Indeed, there has to be a possibility that it won't be played until the new year.

Beagh and Turloughmore are adamant that their position is correct, but obviously one of them is wrong. So why is it taking so long to figure out?

Once again, it highlights the need for quicker ways to settle contentious matters. Galway and the Connacht Council have found against Turloughmore while the DRA, at its first hearing, ordered a complete re-examination.

No doubt, all sides to this dispute are acting in good faith but the reality remains that a county championship has been delayed for weeks over a technicality.

Where's a powerful dictator when you need one?

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