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GAA must bring LGFA in under its umbrella

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Former Kerry goalkeeper Eamonn Fitzgerald believes the time is right for the men’s and women’s governing bodies to join forces

There will be plenty of business on the agenda for this weekend’s GAA Congress. I will be keeping interested eyes on the motion to bring the LGFA and the Camogie Association fully under the umbrella of the GAA. Larry McCarthy can make his name as President by curing this long festering sore.

In some cases, women in the GAA have been treated as though they are of lesser importance than men. Misogyny, or a fear of a takeover? Who does so much of the work for the GAA?

The women, of course. Conceiving and bearing the players of the future. Encouraging them from the sidelines.

Go to any Saturday morning academy and see who does most of the ferrying of the young boys and girls to the local pitch? Mná na hÉireann for the most part. Click and collect in action. Only the broad-minded clubs give equality of access to the ladies, for usage of the pitches for training and playing matches.

Increasingly, clubs are depending on the female members to take up demanding positions on the executives. The Kilcummin GAA club has set out a marker with ladies in all of the main positions on the executive. What’s more, far too often the LGFA has to raise its own funds to continue its programmes.

I was delighted to see that the FAI and the IRFU have moved towards some equality for the sexes, especially in respect of the international teams getting equal remuneration for representing their county. Begrudgery curtailed that enlightened approach for far too long, but better late than never.

I hope the GAA will do the right thing tomorrow and support this move for equality. The LGFA is not under the official banner of the GAA. It’s time to get in under that umbrella, otherwise there will be a new storm brewing to equal Eunice et al.

LONG WAIT

When I interviewed Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh many years ago for this column and asked him for his wish for the GAA in the future, he had no hesitation in his reply.

“That the GAA will elect a woman as Uachtarán (President) for the first time ever, to lead us on to great things for the organisation.”

I think that was for Mícheál’s 80th birthday. He is still hale, hearty and enthusiastic as ever heading for 92. Mo bhrón and o chón, no sign of a breakthrough on that enlightened vision.

I know of a least one lady in waiting - ready, willing and able to wear that symbolic chain. There may be other unannounced candidates. Maybe Patrick O’Sullivan, the chairman of the Kerry County Board, will help expedite Mícheál’s vision.

The LGFA are a separate entity to the GAA and do not have the resources of their male counterparts, such as playing pitches etc. The Laois ladies team could not play in the county’s centre of excellence because they were priced out of it.

I do recall when Liam O’Neill was president of the GAA he tried to get the LGFA to come in under the GAA umbrella, but the LGFA didn’t come in. I wonder why? Hopefully, there will be support for the motion tomorrow, but knowing how the civil service of the GAA works, especially at convention and at congress levels, the best one can hope for is agreement on principle and a committee appointed to look into it. Reporting back will be a slow burner.

Over to you Larry, the President of the GAA (with strong Killarney connections).

EMBRACING

Many years ago Denis Conroy (Cork) highlighted the growing problem of how difficult it was to get men to become club officers. He made a passionate plea at congress, cocluding: “In the name of God, to save the GAA, what we need to do is to embrace the women of Ireland.”

Gerald McKenna, Chairman of the Kerry County Board at that time, who was famous for his witty one-liners, replied.

“I would like to assure Mr Conroy that we are doing just that in Kerry for centuries.”

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Glorious weather for Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships

It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough […]

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It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough Bay on Lough Lein.

Hundreds flocked to the Valley shore to see the coastal clubs of Kerry race in crews from Under 12 to Masters. As well as clubs from around the Ring of Kerry, there was a strong representation from the Killarney clubs with the Workmen, Commercials and Fossa wearing their colours with pride. The atmosphere, colour, fun and fierce competition produced a spectacular day that will live long in the memory.

The event was opened by the Councillor John O’Donoghue, vice chair of the Killarney Municipal District who congratulated Flesk Valley on their centenary, which occurred during 1920, and wished all of the clubs a successful day’s racing.

The first race was preceded by a special blessing of the boats by Fr Eugene McGillycuddy, who also remembered Brendan Teahan of Cromane Rowing Club in his prayers.

Afterwards John Fleming, chair of Flesk Valley, expressed his immense pride and satisfaction with the success of the regatta.

“It’s our first time ever hosting a regatta, but we wanted to do something special to mark our 102 years in existence,” he said.

“It was a lot of work, but we have a fantastic hard-working committee in Flesk Valley who really pulled out all the stops to make it happen, and we received fantastic support from our members, parents, other clubs and local businesses.”

John also thanked the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association, in particular Mary B Teahan and Andrew Wharton, and the staff of the Killarney National Park for all their support and encouragement in hosting this event.

This was a qualifying event and the Kerry clubs will be heading to Wexford next weekend to complete for honours at the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships.

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Live referee mics should be the norm – swearing concerns be damned

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by Adam Moynihan

I was disappointed to learn that the GAA are preventing TG4 from using their live referee mic in this Sunday’s Wexford hurling final.

(And not just because I had already written an article saying how great live referee mics are and how they are sure to be implemented across the board. Ctrl + A. Delete.)

TG4’s GAA coverage is superb and they raised the bar once again when they mic’d up referee John O’Halloran for the Kerry hurling final between Causeway and Ballyduff.

Pinning a microphone on the referee is standard practice in televised rugby and judging by the positive response to Gaelic games’ first foray into this territory, I was expecting it to become the norm.

It still might but, explaining their decision to The 42, the GAA said that they were not aware beforehand of the ref mic being trialled in Stack Park on Sunday.

“They believe such a development will require more discussion and education if it is to be implemented on a more regular basis in live TV coverage and could possibly need a policy change,” Fintan O’Toole reported.

The image of the Association is surely the primary concern here.

Players and managers – usually the worst behaved participants when it comes to things like swearing – will be among those who get “educated” on the subject. Some verbal abuse that might otherwise be muted for television viewers will, in all likelihood, be picked up by the referee’s microphone. You would imagine that the teams involved will be reminded of this the week of a televised game.

It also makes sense from Croke Park’s point of view to speak to referees and give them guidance on how to conduct themselves when the mic is on.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if senior GAA figures are currently fretting over the possibility of an agitated ref making headlines for something they say in the heat of the moment. And make no mistake about it, some match officials can eff and jeff with the best of them.

A friend of mine (a Wexford man, funnily enough) recalls an incident when a teammate was unceremoniously taken out of it by an opponent.

“Ah ref, for f***’s sake!” the victim complained.

“I gave you the f***ing free,” the referee replied. “What do you want me to do, slap him in the face with a wet fish?!”

The GAA might think that a referee swearing like that would leave all of us red-faced. In reality the clip would be a viral sensation and the general public would probably call for the official in question to run for Áras an Uachtárain. (He’d get my ****ing vote.)

The odd swear word from someone involved is bound to sneak through every now and then but you’d hear the same – and plenty more – at any match you attend from Cahersiveen to County Antrim.

Implementing the referee mic on a wider scale is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t appear to take a huge amount of effort or expense for the broadcaster to set it up and, more importantly, it offers a wonderful insight into the unknown.

Listening to referees explain their decisions in real time will clear a lot of things up for commentators, analysts and the media. We will no longer have to speculate about what they did or did not see, or what specific rule is being cited, or why.

Viewers, especially those who might be casual followers of the sport, will appreciate it too and become more educated; I know that’s how I feel when I watch rugby, for example.

It just leads to greater transparency and understanding.

Well done to TG4 and the Kerry County Board for being the pioneers. I’m sure others will follow their lead – as soon as the GAA allow them to do so.

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