Duffy says congress will be called on to make some momentous decisions
Páraic Duffy's report was trenchant when addressing the proposed reforms of the FRC which includes protecting the art of the high catch, as displayed here by Kerry's Bryan Sheehan.
Next month’s annual GAA congress will be called on to make “momentous decisions”, according to association director general Páraic Duffy speaking at the launch of his annual report in Croke Park yesterday.
He was referring to the motions tabled to give effect to the proposals of the Football Review Committee to improve the game as well as the blueprint for a new hurling championship, which will reduce the number of counties competing for the MacCarthy Cup while allowing all current participants to play for their place in the streamlined structure.
“The motion in front of delegates is the fruit of sustained reflection,” he says in his report about the hurling proposals, “and it clearly represents a long-term solution, as opposed to another short-term fix.
“I would hope that the proposals, if adopted, will bring about more competitive, streamlined and balanced hurling championships for all inter-county teams, regardless of their level. Most of all, I hope they will stand the test of time and prove to be a lasting and effective solution to the unique issues surrounding the competitive imbalance that exists among county teams at the various levels of our national game.”
Duffy’s report was, however, most trenchant when addressing the proposed reforms of the FRC. During media questioning he said that he was “absolutely supportive” of the proposals, which he described as “a serious attempt to make Gaelic football a better game”.
“They want to reduce extensive fouls in Gaelic football, they want to get rid of the so-called cynical fouling, they want to give the high catch a better chance, they want to engender respect for referees, they want to extend the advantage rule to make the game more fluid and enjoyable to watch and they also address the issue of more games for club players. I don’t see how anybody could oppose any of those things.”
He was critical of the tendency to prioritise flowing matches over the application of playing rules. “The last number of years, you have this clamour all the time to let the game run with the least number of fouls being a positive . . . That’s the mantra. But in many cases, that means letting the game run by ignoring fouls.
“There’s something wrong if that’s the way you want the game played – for referees to ignore a certain number of fouls so we’ve a nice, open game. If you do want the open game well let’s change the rules to ensure we have an open game. It’s a problem for a sport or a game if you’re relying on non-application or a deliberate misinterpretation of the rules.”
In relation to the general issue of discipline he vigorously defended the recently introduced restriction on the numbers allowed on the sideline during matches – a move that has caused unhappiness amongst some team managers and their selectors.
“I am more convinced than ever that we must now legislate for such a restriction and extend the regulations recently adopted by Central Council for its fixtures to all levels of the association. It is deeply frustrating that those involved in scuffles or brawls at games have absolutely no awareness of the damage they do to the GAA.