Sunday 15 September 2019

Eugene McGee: Boston 'handbags' could stir a hornets' nest

The super 11s hurling exhibition in Boston turned into a brawl
The super 11s hurling exhibition in Boston turned into a brawl

Eugene McGee

It's been quite an interesting week on the GAA speech-making circuit, which is surprising at a time when many people were more closely focused on Christmas or the IFA.

In the space of 24 hours we had GAA activity, if you could describe it that way, 3,000 miles apart but both claiming to be involved as true blue GAA activists.

Last Saturday week, we had the International Rules game between Ireland and Australia which went off very well, with little controversy, and yesterday week we had a game called hurling in Boston between teams from Galway and Dublin, where we did get lots of discussion.

It was some achievement for those under-stress Galway hurlers without a team manager to beat Dublin in Boston, where there are more Galway emigrants than in any other city in the world. But controversy tends to follow hurlers from that county.

Despite the fact the Boston game of artificial hurling was no more than an exhibition, in Fenway Park we still managed to have one of the cruder aspects of GAA games - a public dust-up.

The reaction was fascinating. GPA boss Dessie Farrell and spokesman Sean Potts described the exchange of blows and hurleys as just a bit of craic or, to use the usual Irish description of dirty play in the GAA, 'only a bit of handbags'. Dublin assistant secretary Jim Roche also described the violence as a 'bit of handbags'.

Now there were many aspects of this event that caused surprise among GAA people, not least the fact that a Galwayman was appointed to referee the game.

Farrell later in the week, when forced on the defensive by comments from Laois manager Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett, stated that this event did not cost the GAA a penny, and presumably the same applied to the GPA, who seemed to be the frontrunners in the staging of this show.

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Anyway, the 'handbags affair' turned out to be a bit more than that when both counties were fined €5,000, with the possibility of more punishment to come.

This would indicate the game was under the aegis of the GAA which will surprise many, considering the variations in the rules of hurling that were in use.

And what happens if a Dublin or Galway player is suspended? Will someone try to prove this was not a game under the rules of the GAA at all?

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