Rules gap year helps 'cool' antagonisms
NEWS ROUND-UP:GAA PRESIDENT Liam O’Neill has accepted the absence of the international rules series from the autumn schedules leaves a significant gap in the promotional calendar for Gaelic games but he said the gap year had helped to cool the antagonisms that developed between Ireland and Australia in the middle of the last decade.
After the controversial and violent incidents of 2005 and ’06, the series was suspended for a year and that was subsequently institutionalised as part of a three-year cycle, which sees the Tests take place here and in Australia with the other year idle.
“It does,” said O’Neill when asked did this not leave a big gap in the autumn of every third year, “but that evolved and I’m not really sure what the reason was for it. It came to the stage a number of years ago where the fact it was every year led to an over-competitiveness and there was an edge to it that wasn’t healthy and would have damaged the series.
“I think the gap year was when people cooled down and took a look at the value of the series. I’m not sure the same attitude to that particular series is the one that we’re trying to project (in the hurling-shinty international rules). I think there’s more emphasis on winning in that one.
“I think the Scottish shinty attitude to next weekend and the weekend after is a little less competitive. There seems to be a big edge to this and the difficulty is to keep the competitiveness without letting it get out of control physically and the safety of our players is a major concern. There was a stage a number of years ago when that just might have been compromised and the fact the gap year was there took the heat out of it.”
He also expanded on the decision by Kilkenny to withdraw from the football league and compete in the British championships. Pointing out that Cavan had withdrawn from the hurling league in order to restructure the game he added that the initiatives taken to develop hurling had been part of the rationale for Kilkenny football’s decision. One of those initiatives had involved Warwickshire being invited into the Nicky Rackard Cup, the third tier All-Ireland hurling championship.
“I was on the phone to Ned Quinn (Kilkenny secretary) the day after Louth hammered Kilkenny . If we could bring Warwickshire across and subsidise them why not do something for Kilkenny? I said to Ned: ‘There’s nowhere we can provide competition for you because there’s nobody at the exact same stage of development as you are. So I asked myself what we had learned from hurling development. Why not give Kilkenny breathing space for a couple of years? Let them play in the British championship without the pressure of playing in the national league . . . and develop a squad who would not be hurlers but Kilkenny footballers with a life of their own – just as the Cavan hurler has a life of his own.”
He also said there had been no decision taken on the future of the interprovincial competition. “We asked Coiste Bainistí that six people who were in favour of its continuation sit down and devise one idea that people might buy so that’s coming up at the weekend. Its future isn’t guaranteed but it’s not gone either.”
Elsewhere the Waterford County Board announced that hurling selector Ken McGrath had resigned from Michael Ryan’s management team. It is believed the commitment to a new job as well as his ongoing club career may have been contributory factors in his decision.
Finally, delegates at next Monday night’s county committee meeting will be asked to ratify the Kerry senior football management team and its senior hurling counterparts.
Football manager Eamon Fitzmaurice will not be replacing Séamus Moynihan, who had to opt out of being a selector because of work and personal commitments. Mikey Sheehy and Diarmuid Murphy will be proposed as selectors and Cian O’Neill, who was involved with beaten All-Ireland finalists Mayo this year and Tipperary hurlers in 2010, will be Kerry’s new physical trainer.
The name of Tom Howard from Clarecastle will be put forward for ratification as the new senior hurling manager.