The GAA will not be run by Twitter. The response by Paraic Duffy to social media's take on 2017 Congress at Croke Park. To say the feedback from the twittersphere wasn't positive is an understatement. I'm probably the wrong person to assess the rights and wrongs of how to resolve the perceived fixture crisis given my Eire Og Annacarty club career ended at under 16 level, and my previously stated view that it would take a mind greater than Einstein's to resolve this conundrum. A few questions arise in the aftermath of the weekend though. If fixtures headaches are the main issues - will the fact that September has now been given back to the clubs not provide any easing of the timetabling pressure? Dermot Earley is only in the job as Gaelic Players Association CEO a wet week and if he was wondering about a job of work in the months ahead he has one item for the list now. Where to from here?
Here's another question arising over the 'Super 8' concept though. How did it come to this? We had the GAA DG Paraic Duffy on Today FM's Championship Sunday last August explaining his vision but alternative views only seemed to take flight in the days and weeks leading up to the Congress. Duffy also took his blueprint on the road around Ireland to get local feedback. Surely alarm bells would have gone off at local level if there was such a groundswell of opinion against? Also having sat through two days of Congress debate (and I won't those 48 hours of my life back) most speakers spoke at some stage about trying to improve the lot of the club player. Critics will say well why was the Club Players Association bid for official recognition rejected then? Ask Dessie Farrell the ex GPA CEO about the journey they travelled over a decade and a half to get official status. To say the GAA is a slow mover is both a good and a bad thing. Good in the sense that it values things like tradition and heritage bad if you want to quickly move with the times. Which is more important? Also Paraic Duffy's trilogy of motions first saw the light of day in Congress last year and came up just short of the 2/3 majority needed to pass in Carlow. They resurfaced 12 months later and got through. So if you have the magic bullet formula to sort this one don't expect everyone to agree with you day 1 and it will be a battle to get it over the line. Thats whether you are in the GAA, GPA, CPA or the IFA. Don't despair though for a crowd that are said to be slow to reform they have introduced only the second ever Football Championship restructure, moved the All Ireland Finals back a full month and dropped extra time in replays in one swoop. Now where that leaves hurling and how the condensed fixture list plays out with fans is something we have to wait to find out.
A Voice for Rural Ireland?
One item that WILL resonate with Irish people who don't live in suburbia is the fate of rural Ireland. The social decay in the country is accelerating at an incredible pace and the government seems more concerned with it's own survival than putting meaningful measures in place to help. Tommorrow night there is a public meeting on this very subject at Ballykisteen Hotel over the difficulties facing the Canon Hayes centre in Tipp Town. The remaining businesses that exist on the main street in Tipp deserve credit for keeping going but the number of vacant premises in the town and other provincial towns around Ireland is depressing. It's getting to crisis levels and this was an issue raised by P Duffy at Congress. A new direction for the GAA?
One of Ireland's top jockeys is to miss the Cheltenham racing Festival. Barry Geraghty's been ruled out of the prestigious annual event, after suffering a collapsed lung and six broken ribs in a fall at Kempton. The Meath man expects to be back for April's Grand National at Aintree. Ruby Walsh famously remarked that there are very few jobs where an ambulance follows you round while you work and the huge danger that these jockeys face every day can sometimes be forgotten. Barry is a pure gent and it's disappointing for him to miss a key part of the season. Get well soon Barry and here's to more photos like this.