Out for a cycle along the Barrow, listening to Saturday Sport discussion of the result of the vote on Proposal B. If this is going to move forward and be a positive, people need to bin the sales pitch. Talk of ‘tweaking’ the proposal is taunting those who opposed this; the points on which this was rejected weren’t minor matters – we are not talking tweaks here; we are talking fundamental change to what was proposed. It will have to be substantially different to what was proposed. The proponents of this proposal must recognise they got this badly wrong or we are doomed to repeat the mistakes again.
Sadly, balance has been lacking in the discussion on national media. Today being a prime example. There were four high profile GAA members interviewed – and all of them passionate but all were in favour of what was rejected. There was no voice representing the rejection of the proposal. Many presenters have been cheer leading the Proposal and nonchalantly dismissing the very valid concerns of those opposed to this particular proposal. Some presenters acted as Influencers. In saying this the provincial councils, when they got the opportunity, were far too defensive and dismissive in interviews during the past fortnight, with one interview being car crash stuff.
At times Saturday Sport sounded like Callans Kicks! I don’t mean to be cruel or demean people but some of the arguments put forward were spurious in the extreme:
|Very little opportunity to get All Stars, win Provincial titles||Agreed but how does this Proposal change that?|
|Referees learning their trade in Division 3 & 4||Agreed but how does this Proposal change that?|
|No opportunity for endorsements||Agreed but how does this Proposal change that?|
|Training to match ratio is a joke||Agreed but how does this Proposal change that?|
|Decision making process is a circus; replace delegates with a ‘group of elite level managers, GPA reps, couple of good business people, couple of ex Presidents||Really?|
The reason I mention these things is because words matter. People are influenced by what they are hearing and when it’s wrong, they should be pulled up. And there should be balance in the programme.
One thing we all agreed on – even before the debate, change is needed. But it can’t be change for changes sake. Hopefully now that the debate has happened there is greater understanding about what the parameters for designing the structure must take account of.
The factors to be considered are becoming clearer, among them:
- Unlinking the Provincial Championships not acceptable
- Positioning Provincial Championships as a preseason tournament not acceptable
- Competition must be merit based
- Provincial structures must be improved. Taking Leinster as an example, simple advantages removed for stronger counties – bring in open draw. Dublin not to use Croke Park as a home venue. Teams drawn at home v Dublin play at home. Stop using neutral venues. The success of Ulster Championship is partially down to open draw – indeed winners often begin in the preliminary round – in away venue. Consider Div 4 teams play at home of drawn against team from higher Div.
- The split season has merit. Define the inter county season. This above all will dictate what can be accommodated. Provinces will have to dovetail with that.
I think this can be done in a short time frame; the players in many counties are rightly frustrated with their lot and change has to come. However no competition structure is going to solve the vast gulf between counties when we have the vast disparity in funding between counties. There has to be a fairer distribution of resources. Centralisation of sponsorship? Spending limits? Central funding of team support structures? Lot still to be done in this regard and that debate may take longer to resolve!