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04th Oct 2021

This dressing room carry-on has gone beyond the joke

Niall McIntyre

It was less than an hour before a knock-out championship game and with the rain bucketing down above them, there were the Portlaoise seniors, huddled in tight, getting togged out under the shelter of a gutter.

When is this joke going to end?

Their opponents St Joseph’s weren’t so lucky as, with the O’Moore Park stand full inside, their players got changed in the boots of their cars. Meanwhile, under the gutter and inside that building were four big, dry and clean dressing rooms without a sinner to warm them up. The mind boggles.

As per official GAA guidelines, the players could enter in sixes but only to put on their jerseys and as was the case in Laois, only to be shepherded back out into the lashings of rain. Having left dressing rooms vacant for the summer, the GAA have persisted with this mob-pleasing and good-for-nothing facade that, at the end of the day, is only doing more harm than it is good.

Because the six-at-a-time-rule is a joke and everyone knows that. If you were soaked to the skin and dirty all over could you honestly say that, already tired after a game of football, you’d wait around for what could be half an hour just to get a turn in the shower? All the while, in the same country, at the same time and after the same game, you could be rushing home for a shower so you could meet those same team-mates in the pub.

These senseless guidelines are in place for all amateur sports-people and, with the weather getting harsher, with colds and flus doing the rounds, it’s about time the GAA stood up for its members. This is dangerous carry-on, it’s frustrating and as Laois and Portlaoise footballer Kieran Lillis says, all it’s doing is putting up a front.

“Inter-county teams were allowed to tog out in the dressing room for League and championship – what’s the difference here?” he asked.

Because if you’re the physio setting up a table in the rain, if you’re the player with no top on in the cold, you’d surely be asking where’s the fun in this?


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