GAA’s new world order: hurling on the ditch and kicking to touch

History if history was written by the GAA

Wander lost in the fields like a bull in the mist, the GAA will be the scutch grass beneath your every step. Photograph: Inpho/Cathal Noonan

Wander lost in the fields like a bull in the mist, the GAA will be the scutch grass beneath your every step. Photograph: Inpho/Cathal Noonan


In uncertain times, the little bit of stability goes a long way; now more than ever. A world where the Republic’s soccer team is sleek and assured while the rugby team sways like a texting drunk is not one that will feel familiar to anyone under the age of 30.

Bad enough they had to grow up in a land that promised a lifetime of plenty only to have the rivers run dry just as they came old enough cast a line. Now they can’t even be sure which bandwagon to jump off. This must all come as the most terrible shock.

Well fear not young ’uns. The GAA is here to save you. Wander lost in the fields like a bull in the mist, the GAA will be the scutch grass beneath your every step. If you hunger, it will sustain; tire, and it will be your bed. Because the GAA is the last old reliable. Changing yet changeless as canal water, to rob a line from Vivian Stanshall. The latest hocus-pocus around the format for next year’s hurling league would be depressing if it wasn’t so damn reassuring. Like a bout of flu you wait the whole winter for, just to get it out of the way.

A recap here isn’t necessary. Just know that the GAA Central Council voted on Saturday to solve the puzzle that has held up the 2014 Master Fixture List by voting not to resolve it. In a twist of logic that would have made George Costanza snort, they fixed a problem by deciding there was no problem. Moreover, that there will be no problem – at least for the next three years.

Little wonder that the eminent GAA correspondent of these pages has spent the weekend at home, silently tapping out: “All work and no play makes Seán a dull boy.”

It’s at times like this that you can’t help but wonder what the world would be like if it was run by the GAA. Soccer folk may wish to take this time to get the “Whaddya-mean-if” jokes out of their system.

Imagine the rewriting history books would have to take . . .

Easter Rising
Now known as the mid-summer Rising. Originally planned for Easter but put back a couple of months to avoid a clash with congress. Initial problems forming a coalition between Pearse’s Irish Republican Brotherhood and Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army smoothed over by a rebel county delegate: “Lads, if Nemo and the Barrs can come together for Cork, ye can come together for Ireland.”

Centre of Operations – Croke Park. Intended to be the GPO but decision reversed after significant number of delegates took against the idea on the basis that it was the stated preference of the football counties. Rebels complained afterwards of going hungry and having to stand around bored for long periods. The 2013 All Stars are thought to have been a tribute.

Proclamation of the Republic now runs to 132 pages. Had originally been just the one, but size increased exponentially once it went through the hands of the Disputes Resolution Authority. “Wouldn’t stand up in court otherwise,” shrugged one member.

Instead of just seven signatories, all 1,600 rebels put their name to it. Reflected the panel mentality management wanted everyone to buy into. Didn’t do management a whole lot of good come the reckoning above in Kilmainham Gaol, all the same.

Moon landings
Nasa renamed. Came to stand for North And South Authority, a special body set up with the mission to land a human on the Sea Of Tranquillity. Ran into trouble when a proposal to move Cape Canaveral to Cape Clear was seen as a deliberate snub to Ulster. Irony lost on everyone.

“Nasa would be better off looking a bit closer to home than worrying about some contrived trip to the moon,” grumbled a prominent member of the Tyrone delegation. “We should spend more time concentrating on our own affairs rather than trying to engage with an alien culture that doesn’t want to know.”

The project endured despite widespread unpopularity. Main drivers were the astronauts who stressed what an honour it would be to represent their planet. Came to be seen as elitist and disconnected, focused only on this one mission. All club astronomy was suspended for a year in protest.

Spaceflight eventually went ahead but only after a tortuous selection meeting. Initial plan to send three astronauts was nixed when Connacht objected to having no representative. By the time it was over, 32 were chosen. Shuttle had to be rebuilt.

All turned out to be worth the hassle in the end. On July 21st, 1969, the first lunar steps were taken on, the first words spoken: “Tá an-áthas orm an ghealach seo a glacadh . . . ”

Kennedy assassination
Foiled due to the School Book Depository hiring the Croke Park security staff. Lee Harvey Oswald was in Dallas that day but didn’t get past the front door.

“Where’s your pass, pal?”

“It’s in here somewhere.”

“You need your pass.”

“But I was here last week. I’m here every week. We have this same conversation, every, bloody, week!”

“Sorry, pal. Orders.”

So there was no assassination, no Oliver Stone movie, no nothing. The GAA so liked the look of the grassy knoll, however, that they shipped it whole over to Dublin. Now better known as Parnell Park.

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