GAA pull the plug on finals speeches for minor captains
THE winning captains in this year's All-Ireland minor finals will not be allowed to make a victory speech, following a ruling by the GAA.
Next Sunday, Clare play Kilkenny in the minor hurling final and afterwards the successful captain will receive the Cup from the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dermot Clifford, as is customary, and then proceed directly to the lap of honour with his team-mates.
In a further break from tradition, the archbishop will not make a presentation speech, which has been a feature of finals over the years.
Clifford became the first Kerryman to hold the office of Patron of the GAA 21 years ago. A recommendation to the GAA's National Awards and Presentation Committee, chaired by Jarlath Burns, to end the practice of speech-making at the minor finals received full approval.
"It came up for discussion at our committee when we were talking about pitch invasions and our committee felt the minor captain's speech should be discontinued," confirmed committee member John Arnold. "About eight of us were present and it was unanimous. I would say it was about looking at ways of streamlining the whole day and the whole presentation end of it."
Arnold also said the move would relieve the burden of public oration from players of 17 and 18 years of age. "I think there were some cases in recent years where minor captains got stuck for words. It is even being argued now that the same should apply to the senior finals."
GAA presidential candidate Liam O'Neill questioned the value of All-Ireland speeches recently and received a mixed reaction.
"I was asked about the Louth and Meath game and pitch invasions and I was trying to make a point," he said on Friday, "that if we are serious we have to meet the public halfway. We won't keep you hanging around and this was one way of maybe tackling that. I was trying to say that nobody remembers the [GAA] president's speech, and only a couple of the captains' speeches of the last 30 years. So what does that say about speeches? A stadium announcer could say what the president has to say on the day."
There was controversy in 1995 when the GAA prevented the Westmeath minor footballers from doing a lap of honour after winning the Leinster title for the first time in 32 years. The privilege was restored after the outcry.