After the excellent job that the GAA did in managing to complete last year’s football and hurling championships in what could be considered the most difficult year in the association’s history because of Covid, those who have decided to vent their disappointment this week with a lack of clarity are singing off the wrong team sheet.
It is difficult to understand how some mentors are talking on one hand about “everyone's health being most important” and in the same breath looking for clarity on when training and the playing of games will resume.
The GAA Covid-19 advisory group comprises a cross section of top class professionals, hurling and football people, who would all like to see a resumption of games, but their underlying objective is the health and safety of not only the players but everyone involved in Gaelic sports.
That is their one and only agenda and last year’s championships would not have taken place without their input.
The GAA is not in a position to talk about clarity at this time as evidenced by the 800 new cases of the virus on Monday.
We are all desperate to return to a life of pre=pandemic normality, but it seems even at this stage that some people do not appreciate the gravity of this virus.
Far too many families in our small country have being left broken by the loss of a loved as a result of Covid-19.
Indeed, I saw this heart break up close on Christmas Eve when a young mother aged 42 was buried, and while sport is of huge importance for many reasons, the clarity can wait until the medical professionals deem it safe to say so.
The set back of not training or playing is very small beer in comparison to the incredible hurt that this pandemic has visited on families in every corner of our country.
Last week GAA president John Horan said, and I quote, “The GAA has an appetite to go back, but we have always acted with safety and responsibility as the key tenets of our decision-making process. That’s why we are not in any rush to come back because we don’t feel it safe or responsible.”
I find it difficult to disagree with the President’s comments. With the GAA’s Annual Congress just weeks away the proposals to stamp out cynical play are very much on the agenda.
One proposal, which looks for a penalty to be awarded when a clear goal scoring chance has been denied, went back to the GAA’s Standing Committee on the Playing Rules for clarification before being approved by GAA Management.
If it is left to referees to decide what constitutes a clear goal scoring opportunity this rule has the potential to be a mitigated disaster.
There is another motion with regard to cynical play in hurling as some counties believe that cynical play is becoming a problem which needs to be eradicated. Watching the last hurling championship provided great entertainment and while cynicism was the exception rather than the rule, if John Doyle, the late great Tipperary defender, or Pa Dillon from Kilkenny, saw the modern game they would scratch their heads before asking what was the problem.
The one rule that I would “park” would be the mark in football. I do not see how it has in any way contributed to enhancing the enjoyment of the game.
Watching the Donegal - Tyrone championship match in Ballybofey in inclement weather provided a most entertaining spectacle, and the football final which saw Dublin complete their history making six in a row against Mayo, was also a fine game. I just can not understand the ongoing obsession with tampering with the rules year after year.
Going back in time to an era when the game was physical it was said that the great Kerry full back Joe Keohane always greeted the opposing full forward with a question before the start of the game.
His question was: “Are you married son?” and usually the answer was no, to which Keohane would reply, “Dammit that is not so bad!” In other words the forward's single status gave Keohane a licence to kill.
There was no tampering with the rules in those days and cynicism was simply a big word like marmalade.
Medical ethics off the mark
When a French neurologist Jean Chermann decided before last Sunday’s rugby International between Ireland and France to discuss Ireland captain Jonny Sextons concussion issues in public it was a serious breach of medical confidentiality and Irish Manager Andy Farrell was spot on when he said that such behaviour was unacceptable.
To add insult to injury the figures quoted by the French medic were grossly exaggerated in relation to the actual number of concussions suffered by Sexton.
Even though Ireland had to play with a much weakened team against France, seeing Sexton helped off the pitch against Wales when he was clearly in distress was a worrying sight, and it was good to see that his health was the one and only priority with the Irish medical team.
Arguably the best player ever to wear the Irish jersey, the mean spirited comments from Chermann would suggest that the French are still having difficulty dealing with Jonny Sextons wonderful drop goal in Paris two years ago.
While Ireland were beaten on Sunday they again showed exceptional courage and pride in the jersey and despite playing without one third of their regular team they gave it their best shot. For that they deserve credit.
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