Some people are getting carried away with their own self-importance - Horan
Inter-county development squads for players between the ages of 13 and 20 years are to be targeted by new GAA president John Horan, who has concerns that "they are being allowed to grow beyond all measure."
While he accepts that it's a difficult area to impose strict rules, he still believes that it needs to be reviewed as a matter of urgency. In his inaugural address to Congress on Saturday, he said that as a former inter-county (Dublin) underage manager and selector he had serious reservations about the entire development squad sector.
"I plan to initiate a review as these development squads are, in my view, starting too early. We need to row back from creating a level of elitism in young players which is unhealthy for our games," he said.
He later elaborated on the subject at a post-Congress press briefing, identifying the entire range from U-13 to U-20 as problem areas.
"We need to create a proper player pathway. Some people are getting carried away with their own self-importance. No young lads should be deemed a success or failure. In some instances, they are under unnecessary pressure and are being deemed a failure before they have even graduated from minor.
"I think these lads should be going to county development training in their club colours to keep it in their heads that they are still club players. The amount of training they do with the county squad is also an issue.
"Some treat their involvement with a county squad as more important than their personal careers.
"Sometimes the parents take over and see it as more important than being at club training or playing with the club. This is all about getting the balance right," he said.
He believes that county boards have a responsibility to choose underage managers carefully so that the well-being of the players always comes first.
"It's key to get the right people looking after these squads for the good of young fellas, rather than promoting their own coaching CV to become a future minor (or U-20) manager," he said.
Horan, who is the first native-born Dublin president since Daniel McCarthy in the 1920s, is also concerned over the threat to the GAA's amateur status, but insists that it cannot be tackled by rules alone.
"If this was the easy answer, it would have been done by now. Rules are not going to work on their own. You have to get people to buy into an ethos and a value within the organisation," he said.
The publication of the new three-year Strategic Vision and Action Plan in April will be one of the first items on Horan's agenda.
He also plans to establish a National Club Committee to review the supports given to local units.
This could be one of the more controversial areas during his presidency, with the Club Players' Association deeply dissatisfied across a wide range of areas. The mood won't have improved after a Congress where their call for transparency in the voting system was overwhelmingly rejected.
Arguing the case on behalf of the CPA and Wexford, Liam Griffin said that knowing how delegates and counties voted was a cornerstone of democracy, something the GAA professed to be central to how they conduct their business.
"What's wrong with transparency, Why are we afraid of being honest," he said.
GPA chairman and Limerick hurler Seamus Hickey supported the motion.
Cork chairperson Tracey Kennedy led the opposition and a note of discord was introduced when Europe delegate Tony Bass hinted at ulterior motives behind the proposal.
"This is a Trojan horse for a group. We know what's behind this," he said.
The motion was beaten on an 83-17 per cent vote and since it didn't receive one-third support, it cannot be re-entered for the next three years.
Horan said that delegates had made their view clear in the vote.
"It got a bit emotive between some individuals, but in real terms you've got to trust people. Sending people (to Congress) with an air of suspicion (on how they will vote) is a bit unhealthy," he said.
John Costigan (Tipperary) and Larry McCarthy (New York & Cork) were elected trustees.
A range of technical motions, designed to tidy up the rule book, were passed. Otherwise it was a low-key Congress on the decision-making front. That arose from the many changes made at last February's annual Congress and the Special Congress in September.
- Betting companies will be barred from sponsoring players, teams, playing gear, competitions and facilities.
- The All-Ireland U-21 hurling championship will be regraded to U-20 in line with football.
- A one-match ban to be imposed on a player for 'minor physical interference with an opposing official.' It was previously a time suspension.
- A player sent off in a final will be allowed to participate in the presentation without sanction.
- A melee to be defined as a minimum of five persons for disciplinary purposes.
- Prevent clubs from bringing in outside managers.
- Make it compulsory for clubs to have either the chairman or secretary as delegates to county boards. The same to apply for county representatives on provincial and central councils.