Board gets back to brass tacks

AS PARLIAMENTARY gatherings go, last night’s county board meeting in Páirc Uí Chaoimh probably lacked a little in terms of drama and theatre.

No surprise there: as Barack Obama is finding out, you may campaign in poetry, but you have to govern in prose.

And last night’s meeting had a grim opening. Gerald McCarthy’s resignation as manager earlier this week was the elephant in the convention room, tootling a distracting tune on its trunk as delegates took their seats, ostensibly to hammer out the dates and venues for local championship encounters.

The soundtrack soon overcame the dialogue, however. True, a Taoiseach was appointed — or rather, a complete, brand-new Cabinet: the entire Cork U21 management team was delegated, en bloc, to handle the senior hurlers for the National Hurling League games against Clare and Limerick, but there was also plenty of anger expressed by speakers about the tribulations suffered by Gerald McCarthy in recent months.

After the vote on the short-term manager, there was a flurry of proposals regarding the composition of the committee which would appoint the long-term manager. Those proposals included committees with former players and with current players; with Pauric Duffy aboard or with the county chairman as a member; with club coaches participating or with club chairmen getting involved.

And finally, a proposal from the Newtownshandrum club which involved Jim O’Sullivan of this parish helping to select one of those committees.

At last, at last, at last: an organisation with the common sense to listen to us. What odds would you have got on that organisation being the Cork County Board?
THE number and variety of those proposals was far too unwieldy for last night’s meeting to process, so it was decided to hold another meeting on Monday night to hear what the clubs have to say about the proposals . . . I know. It’s hard to keep track of everything. After a while every second word is either ‘meeting’ or ‘proposal’.

Last night wasn’t an occasion for Cromwellian thunder, and the speakers wouldn’t have been confused with the likes of Burke or Grattan. They didn’t need to be.

After all, there was an odd mixture on the agenda which had to be addressed — the mundane, in that the championship fixtures are a hardy annual on the order of business, and the momentous, in that . . . well, you’ve probably been well briefed on that over the last few months.

For those who have been tracking those mass meetings in the last week around Cork — many of them large enough to keep Daniel O’Connell happy — there may be a little surprise this morning that the rule book wasn’t filleted like a kipper in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night.

They shouldn’t be. Expressive as those meetings were of a thirst within the county for change, they can’t effect that change unilaterally. The
legislature is where those changes are made, not the hustings.

If you’re sick of the political metaphors, consider those last few get-togethers as more in the nature of warm-up performances for the big premiere: before the glossy musicals ever get to Broadway they’re given a run out of town first. Accordingly, procedural developments were thin on the ground last evening, as was constitutional reform, though a special convention would be a more appropriate forum for the reinvention of administration in Cork anyway.

This morning the announcement of John Considine and his colleagues as managers of the senior hurling team will dominate headlines. Little wonder.

Last night’s meeting moved on to the pleas for postponements of various championship games, which will generate plenty of discussion at local level: as chairman Jerry O’Sullivan pointed out, for instance, weddings are not a genuine cause for postponements. The games go on regardless.

True enough. They also go on despite separations.

Contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

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Board gets back to brass tacks

AS PARLIAMENTARY gatherings go, last night’s county board meeting in Páirc Uí Chaoimh probably lacked a little in terms of drama and theatre.
No surprise there: as Barack Obama is finding out, you may campaign in poetry, but you have to govern in prose.
And last night’s meeting had a grim opening. Gerald McCarthy’s resignation as manager earlier this week was the elephant in the convention room, tootling a distracting tune on its trunk as delegates took their seats, ostensibly to hammer out the dates and venues for local championship encounters.
The soundtrack soon overcame the dialogue, however. True, a Taoiseach was appointed — or rather, a complete, brand-new Cabinet: the entire Cork U21 management team was delegated, en bloc, to handle the senior hurlers for the National Hurling League games against Clare and Limerick, but there was also plenty of anger expressed by speakers about the tribulations suffered by Gerald McCarthy in recent months.
After the vote on the short-term manager, there was a flurry of proposals regarding the composition of the committee which would appoint the long-term manager. Those proposals included committees with former players and with current players; with Pauric Duffy aboard or with the county chairman as a member; with club coaches participating or with club chairmen getting involved.
And finally, a proposal from the Newtownshandrum club which involved Jim O’Sullivan of this parish helping to select one of those committees.
At last, at last, at last: an organisation with the common sense to listen to us. What odds would you have got on that organisation being the Cork County Board?

THE number and variety of those proposals was far too unwieldy for last night’s meeting to process, so it was decided to hold another meeting on Monday night to hear what the clubs have to say about the proposals . . . I know. It’s hard to keep track of everything. After a while every second word is either ‘meeting’ or ‘proposal’.
Last night wasn’t an occasion for Cromwellian thunder, and the speakers wouldn’t have been confused with the likes of Burke or Grattan. They didn’t need to be.
After all, there was an odd mixture on the agenda which had to be addressed — the mundane, in that the championship fixtures are a hardy annual on the order of business, and the momentous, in that . . . well, you’ve probably been well briefed on that over the last few months.
For those who have been tracking those mass meetings in the last week around Cork — many of them large enough to keep Daniel O’Connell happy — there may be a little surprise this morning that the rule book wasn’t filleted like a kipper in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night.
They shouldn’t be. Expressive as those meetings were of a thirst within the county for change,
they can’t effect that change unilaterally. The
legislature is where those changes are made, not the hustings.

If you’re sick of the political metaphors, consider those last few get-togethers as more in the nature of warm-up performances for the big premiere: before the glossy musicals ever get to Broadway they’re given a run out of town first. Accordingly, procedural developments were thin on the ground last evening, as was constitutional reform, though a special convention would be a more appropriate forum for the reinvention of administration in Cork anyway.
This morning the announcement of John Considine and his colleagues as managers of the senior hurling team will dominate headlines. Little wonder.
Last night’s meeting moved on to the pleas for postponements of various championship games, which will generate plenty of discussion at local level: as chairman Jerry O’Sullivan pointed out, for instance, weddings are not a genuine cause for postponements. The games go on regardless.
True enough. They also go on despite separations.

Contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

Cork crisis, 26 February 2009

February 26, 2009

Under-fire board left clinging to letter of the law

ON TUESDAY night the Cork County Board met and dismissed last Sunday’s meeting of players and club
officials in Cork as having “no standing” in the rules of the GAA.
The board added that suggestions it was “hiding” behind the rules were wrong.
Consider the backdrop to that meeting: last Sunday the 2008 hurlers received huge backing from the club chairmen and officials they invited to the meeting in the Maryborough House Hotel, with vocal condemnations from the floor of that meeting of the board’s modus operandi.
Last Friday GAA President-elect Christy Cooney and director-general Pauric Duffy made their peace proposals public, which would have removed from the executive all functions from picking senior intercounty managers to fixture planning.
Cooney is a former chairman of Cork County Board and has an intimate knowledge of its operations. What does that say about his co-authorship of that emasculating document?
Last Saturday fortnight over 10,000 people took to the streets of Cork to protest in support of last year’s panel, though soon afterwards there were suggestions that some or many of those people were not fully paid-up members of the GAA, even if anecdotal evidence undermined that particular notion.
Finally, in October of last year the 2008 panel put the board on notice that they would not play for Gerald McCarthy if reappointed.
Taken together, that forms a practically perfect circle of opposition around the executive of the Cork County Board.
From the top it has been condemned as not fit for purpose by the GAA hierarchy; from below it faces rebellion from its own clubs and members.
Its elite hurlers will not play for the board, while its elite footballers may be only six weeks away from joining those hurlers on the sidelines (if they don’t qualify for the league play-offs).
The suggestion that the marchers were semi-detached fans or Saturday shoppers has also rebounded spectacularly; if those marchers weren’t GAA members it’s yet another constituency the executive has alienated — the ‘casual’ fan.
The GAA elite, the GAA grassroots, the GAA’s top box-office draw, the GAA support: is there any group the Cork County Board can’t alienate?

The executive pointed to rule 59 of the official guide of the GAA last Tuesday night to underline their authority in this matter.
Surely somebody can point out that when you have to say you’re the authority on something because you can show where that’s written in a rulebook, then the show is over.
If you need to remind people of your authority then there’s a good reason why they’ve forgotten about it.
One of the most telling contributions to last Sunday’s meeting came when motions were being discussed, and one club official warned that those
motions would have to be worded perfectly.
He was contradicted by another speaker, who stressed that that
kind of nitpicking was part of the trouble.
That’s one of the most unattractive aspects of the GAA. Not so much the glorying in the technicalities — pedants thrive in every walk of life — but the fostering of a culture of fear in which initiatives must be parsed not so much for their advantages or disadvantages on merit but for the fine print of their legalese and the hollow joy of finding a drafting error or a procedural mistake.
There are alternatives to that
culture. Last Tuesday night a board delegate likened the Maryborough meeting to an election rally for Barack Obama, and he may have a point, but not in terms of choreography.
Obama’s favourite book is ‘Team of Rivals’, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s account of how Abraham Lincoln drew electoral opponents into his cabinet, getting them to work together and triumph over adversity.
In a county other than Cork
disparate elements looking to achieve reform could be drawn
together.
But only in a county other than Cork.