Colm Parkinson: No matter what changes are made in the GAA, people will always cry
Read these two quotes:
“Definitely, everyone wants to play more games and there will be less training. Training is great but after a while you can only train so much..."
"It's cruel to have the four games one after the other. A lad gets a serious enough injury in the first game, he's after training all year to play maybe one game and miss the rest so I think it's going to be changed for next year. I think it's a bit mad."
You might find it surprising that such polar opposite opinions are in relation to hurling’s new provincial championship leagues in Munster and Leinster. Conor Lehane is delighted with the new structure and Kevin Martin thinks they are mad.
Personally, I'm on Conor's side. I think the summer changes in hurling are fine, more games in the championship is exactly what players want and they are all games against teams, for the most part, at a similar level.
The hurling championship often overshadows the football championship because of its tiered system which cuts down on dead rubber games in the provinces. The best teams play each other every year early in the championship unlike the football when we often had to wait until August for that to happen.
The second tier, the Joe McDonough Cup, even have a route into the senior championship. Now we know that will only end one way against the third placed teams but it’s a great reward for the second tier teams and they will learn where they are at against the big boys.
GAA members are a funny lot. No matter what changes are made in the GAA there is a section that will always be against it.
I think the best example of the GAA not being able to please everyone was the introduction of the mark in football. Such a simple playing rule caused outrage amongst Gaels across the country.
Mickey Harte: “It won’t do what it's supposed to do, and it’s not necessary, it interrupts the game and slows it up.”
Rory Gallagher: “I wouldn't agree with it at all. You could say it's rewarding high fielding. It's rewarding tall players is one way to look it.”
Joe Brolly: “The mark also slows the game down. The midfielder catches the ball and calls for the mark. The referee awards him a free-kick. By the time he's settled and ready to take it, the blanket is in place. Where's the advantage?”
Oisin McConville: “But what does a mark offer us in reality? Potentially, more short kick-outs than ever, with a huge reluctance to give a bigger opposition midfield the advantages in this area. Failing that, a mass of bodies in the midfield in a relentless battle not to give away that crucial mark.”
The four lads above all have very good football brains but we all know none of their concerns or predictions came to pass. The mark has been a huge success, it has not slowed the game down and has contributed to a more fluid, faster game. But before anyone saw it in action there were doomsday scenarios being thrown out there by pundits, managers and players, never mind supporters that are influenced by those people.
Even hawkeye had its detractors before it was introduced.
All this outrage, about things that are worth trying, actually dilute outrage that is warranted and I’m sure the GAA top brass can just brush any criticism off by agreeing they can't please everyone.
I’m happy with a lot of things in the GAA. We should be very proud of Croke Park and of county and club facilities throughout the country. We should be very proud of the volunteers that give up their time and of the community spirit and togetherness the GAA promotes.The standard of football and hurling at intercounty and club level is exceptional and we should be very proud of the level the games have reached.
The biggest issue facing the GAA is the championship structure and the layout of the GAA calendar because it has a knock on effect on so many aspect of our games. That is the main issue and there are some others too so to clear it up I've made a list of important GAA issues that are acceptable to be outraged about and some that are not.
Acceptable to be outraged by:
- Championship structures
- Provincial championships
- Master fixture plan
- Club calendar
- Congress democracy/transparency
- Congress delegates
- County boards
- Black cards
- GPA wages
- Helmet rule
- Frank Murphy
- Codes of conduct
- Media bans
- Dublin playing their super 8 home game in Croke Park
- Ultra defensive systems
On the banned list:
- Moderate defensive systems
- Sweepers in hurling
- The mark
- Diarmuid Connolly’s ban
- Comparing bans
- Aidan O'Shea in general
- Liam Rush's ankle socks
- Players/managers talking to the media
- Sliotar tampering
- Something Joe Brolly said
- Something Ger Loughnane said
- Jim Gavin interviews, he’s not going to change (I’ll try)