Quinn case exposes a fault line within GAA
ON GAELIC GAMES:Reconciling the cultural differences between the Ireland of close-knit local loyalties and that of major population centres isn’t going to get any easier, writes SEAN MORAN
IT’S all happening for the GAA, as August – the crucible of the championship season – arrives with the most compelling set of football quarter-finals since the round was introduced 12 years ago.
In the background Eugene McGee’s Football Review Committee has opened for business, canvassing views on the state of the game. On Sunday the demonstration in Ballyconnell in support of Seán Quinn and his family featured some expansive talk about the GAA standing up for the stricken border businessman and this was amplified on Monday when former GAA president Seán Kelly, now a Fine Gael MEP, approved of the demonstration as “an expression of moral support”.
Earlier in the day, the television schedules for the weekend revealed RTÉ had exercised its priority option on the football quarter-finals by choosing to screen the Dublin-Laois match on Saturday evening, the timing and the champions’ vast demographic making it the box-office fixture of the weekend even if the Donegal-Kerry contest is the most eagerly anticipated of the quarter-finals on football criteria.
TV3 have previously made no bones about their preference for Dublin matches, as they deliver big audiences. RTÉ has tended to take a broader view but on this occasion has passed on what would generally be considered the weekend’s big match.
There are themes running through the above events and they create challenges for the GAA. The FRC has given itself a very broad remit in defining what areas it intends to explore. That includes rule changes and as a result the standing committee on rule changes in the games has effectively been put into dry dock until the football committee’s findings are released later in the year. It will be a surprise if there isn’t a groundswell of support for intensifying penalties applicable to cynical or “professional” fouling.
Already ideas have been floated such as the equivalent of basketball’s team fouls – awarding close-in frees once a specified number of fouls have been committed in order to undermine the value of fouling in the opposition half of the field.
Suspensions for cumulative yellow cards are another item likely to be on the agenda in the near future. These would be excellent ideas because if punishments don’t disadvantage the perpetrators, the overwhelming evidence suggests the breaking of rules for unfair advantage will continue.