Gavan Reilly

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GAA Congress #2

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A pre-Congress phoot shoot this morning; in publicity for Lá na gClub, any delegates with a county jersey were asked to get a photo together this morning. I have some photos but am not likely to get them up before Ray McManus from Sportsfile. I did, however, get a TwitPic that the family will probably treasure for a while. 🙂

Before the discussion on the Experimental Playing Rules that have been trialled in the pre-season tournaments and National Leagues over the winter, there’s the not inconsiderable routine of getting through discussions and proposals presented by a Rules Taskforce who are tasked with the revision and modernisation of the GAA’s fundamental rules.

Rule 21 – the fabled rule that once banned members of the Ulster policing forces from membership – has just been deleted in its entirety; its contents have been somewhat replicated in other rules introduced and so it is no more. Interesting to think that once upon a time that rule caused such incredible consternation at a Congress that Seán McCague’s Presidency will forever be remembered for the amendment of the fabled Rule.

Elsewhere, Congress has formally agreed to launch a system of electronic membership, probably the biggest non-Governmental registration ever to take place in Ireland, with the GAA’s 800,000-odd membership now being electronically catalogued. Analagous to this, the final date for payment of membership fees has been brought forward from August 1st annually to March 31st. As a by-product, members joining a new club after March 31st won’t be allowed to run for a committee position until the following year.

Ned Quinn, Secretary in Kilkenny, wasn’t best pleased. He and the Úachtarán have a brief squabble about whether this is a healthy thing or not. “In fairness, Ned,” says the Úachtarán, “People will always have their fees paid early anyway.”

“No offence, Úachtarán,” comes the reply, “but people pay before August because they need to if they want their All-Ireland tickets.”

Congress bursts into a jovial spontaneous applause. Amid all the theoretical talk of rules and taskforces and directions and strategic analyses, there’s still a sense of real humour. Bravo.

Written by Gav

April 18th, 2009 at 9:51 am

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GAA Congress #1

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So here I am, brushing the cobwebs off the blog, from Cork where I’m at the GAA’s Annual Congress in Cork. I should state from the start that I’m not a delegate here; I’m an executive tagger-onner – Ciara’s dad is finishing up as President after three years at the helm, and we’re here supporting him as it all finishes up. It’s been quite the three years but that’s for another blog.

A few first impressions:

While it’s not like an Árd Fheis where you’re smothered from the outset with flyers asking you to vote, this is as close as the GAA gets to a trade show. Thus, everyone from O’Neills and Azzurri to Sportsfile and Baker IT is downstairs shifting wares; even artificial turf installers and floodlight suppliers are here, hoping that passing delegates might be from clubs interested in having work one.

While it’s not typically perceived as so, it’s a real mixture of young and old here – not that the stereotypical delegate would be defied by the existence of a “Ladies’ Tour” for the wives of delegates to mosey around Cork on the Saturday while the Congress itself continues apace in Rochestown, near Douglas. There are some very young – I literally mean teenage – delegates around, assumably people who proposed motions from clubs who have gotten motions onto the Clár. It’s good to see.

The design of the GAA’s standard wares has become very slick and professional. Congress two years ago in Kilkenny – and, from what I’ve seen, everything up to that – was a raggletaggle design mixed bag; Kilkenny’s was the predictable amber-and-black combo everywhere possible. Since the GAA rebranded, simultaneously with Congress at Sligo last year, it’s been a much more unified and dignified affair; this year the booklets of working group and committee reports, and the Congress Clár itself, are works of staggering professionalism with some truly incredible photography included therein.

This evening, as is customary, Congress dealt with financial matters and the Ard-Stiurthoir’s report. Financial things, despite The Climate, look okay – the notable sums being that Championship gate receipts in 2008 were slightly down on an all-time peak of 2007, and the Foreign Games took in €15m. Now, admittedly, this money has been ringfenced for capital projects and isn’t being treated as the staple income, and without it the Association would still turn profit. Nonetheless, it’ll be quite a hole to plug given it will have been customary for quite a bit by the time it disappears in 2010’s accounts.

Paraic Duffy’s report was a thorough affair; the usual ream of well-thought-out suggestions that the Árd-Stiúrthóir’s report brings before they’re promptly forgotten, as fate has proven in the past. Fingers crossed for otherwise.

Tomorrow’s business kicks off at 10am with reports and motions from the Rules Taskforce, followed by debate on the experimental rules which provide the main talking point. The outgoing President’s address is scheduled for 12.30pm but is likely to have to be shifted in accordance with business; the official handover to Christy Cooney is set for 5pm but likewise may be subject to the whims of the floor.

With any luck I’ll be tweeting (using the tag #gaa2009) and blogging from the floor – there’s also live feeds on for those interested.

Until tomorrow…

Written by Gav

April 17th, 2009 at 10:30 pm