Irish Examiner Column, August 1 2008

August 1, 2008

Michael Moynihan

Cracking the whip on GAA’s disciplinary obsession

FOR THOSE with an eye for unfortunate double entendres in sport, the GAA obsession with discipline must be a godsend.

Discipline, discipline, discipline. There’s been so much talk about this for the last few weeks, it’s like listening to Dr Montague in Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety shouting “Too much bondage, not enough discipline,” on a permanent loop.

It’s the opposite problem in the GAA: far too much discipline
(the bondage I leave to your
imagination).

The shuddering halt — if such it is — to the Paul Galvin story
yesterday leads to the unavoidable conclusion that application of the rules within the GAA is as
haphazard as it ever was.

Galvin is unlikely to pursue any further appeals, and it’s easy to see why.

The toll taken on an individual by that kind of media focus for the last few weeks can only be guessed at.

That focus only occurred because of Galvin’s actions in the game against Clare, of course, which is why it’s necessary to differentiate between two separate issues.

One is the ham-fisted application of a sanction and the huge pressure that placed on a person who no doubt felt unfairly isolated.

Last year the ‘Semplegate’ issue rumbled on and on until the night before Cork were scheduled to take on Waterford in the Munster
hurling championship.

The actual incident took place on May 27, and that next round was on June 17.

Paul Galvin’s sending off took place on June 15 against Clare; the day before yesterday, July 30, he was finally ruled out of action for three months, four days before Kerry’s first outing in the qualifiers.

But at least there were several Cork and Clare players in that
situation. Galvin has been on his own.

In addition, last year we were told that the GAA had taken cognisance of the delay in dealing with the Cork situation, and that such delays would not occur again.

Some chance. (Incidentally,
nobody seems willing to talk about the Semplegate sequel we had last Sunday in Thurles, when a
Wexford player and Waterford
player clashed before coming out.

You’d be inclined to hope that that was because of an outbreak of common sense, as nothing really happened.

Pity we didn’t have a bit more common sense when it happened the last time, eh?).

The other issue, however, is the fact that the Galvin saga happened because the player was sent off in the first place.

We’re not about to rehash all the arguments about what happened that day in Fitzgerald Stadium, nor are we going to get into another wearying go-around on the
character of the Kerry captain.

But there has been a gradual blurring of the issues, suggesting that as it’s taken so long to arrive at any kind of determination in this case, then it’s only fair to the man to halve his sentence anyway from six months to three months.

The upshot of the last few weeks is that the de facto disciplinary sanction for hitting the notebook out of a referee’s hands and roaring into his and his linesman’s face is now three months. Does that sound right?

You may have noticed, by the way, that 50,000 was generated in legal costs in three cases which went to the DRA recently.

Those figures are paid by the county boards in question, by the way, but surely the GAA as a
corporate entity could pay some parliamentary draftsmen, barristers and solicitors the going rate to sit in a room for a couple of days to hammer out a real, robust GAA constitution — without the
hilarious procedural gaps and holes being found nowadays?

If it’s the expense the GAA is worrying about, set that against the damage to the organisation’s
reputation and see which is more cost-effective.

If discipline can be sorted, all that would be left to deal with is bondage. Though that might just be us.

contact:
michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

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