Friday, 10 December 2010 10:58
It goes without saying the GAA is the biggest sporting organisation in the country. While we are all very proud of that fact we are seeing considerable changes to our national sport - some good and some bad. On the plus side the GAA has one of the best stadiums, Croke Park, in the world. Many other venues around the country, including our own McHale Park, are a credit to the association.
On the negative side a lot of the fun is being taken away from our national games. For example, counties have now to pay out big bucks to pay people to manage their county team and players are also getting in on the act by now looking to get paid for playing.
There are many more changes taking place which show the GAA is really no longer a sport but a business
The real sufferer in all this is the grassroots of the GAA, the clubs.
Without the clubs you would have no GAA. Those running the clubs, and there are thousands and thousands all over the country, are the people who give up most of their free time freely to coach and develop players from Under 8 right up to senior level.
The people who do this never get a cent and never look for one. Indeed, most of them are always out of pocket.
On top of that, they have to go out and sell lotto tickets week in week out and run other fundraising events to keep their club going. This includes paying affiliation fees, insurance cover and different levies to their county board.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of what clubs have to do voluntarily. And it begs the question, are clubs taken for granted? My belief is that they are.
What has got me going ranting and raving this week about the GAA is not the men's hierarchy but the women's, and it is all to do with the treatment of clubs.
Last Sunday, Carnacon
were due to play Inch Rovers from Cork in the All-Ireland senior club final. It was cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions. Nothing wrong with that as no one has control over the weather.
However, my gripe is that this final should have been played two weeks earlier, when the original date was fixed for the final. But it was put back because TG4 wanted to show the final and now that the GAA is a business that was that.
No consideration for the clubs at all. These are the clubs that have been training all year and players and officials had made their own personal plans once they knew all the fixtures and dates.
In Carnacon's case, putting the final back two weeks threw everything upside down. Firstly, one of their star players, Natasha Beegan
, had booked her holidays (two weeks in Mexico) once she learned all the club senior championship dates. But in order not to let her side down she was willing to interrupt her holiday by flying back last Saturday morning before returning to Mexico for the second week of her holiday yesterday (Monday).
The cost of this was €1,000, which the club had to go out and fundraise. Luckily, when the game was cancelled last Thursday afternoon the club were able to contact her just in time to stop her from flying home.
The word from the ladies HQ in Croke Park on Thursday afternoon was that the game was cancelled and provisionally re-fixed for next Sunday. No asking the clubs if that would suit or not.
In Carnacon's case again it does not suit as many of the players had planned and paid for a weekend away in Manchester next weekend after their year-long exertions on the playing field. Now their plans and the money they paid for their weekend goes down the drain.
Does the hierarchy in Croke Park care? I don't think so.
This is just one of the cases where the ladies GAA grassroots is taken for granted. It is no different with the men's.