Nickey Brennan - When Harlem Shake came to Congress!

THE motion proposing a change to the senior hurling championship was comfortably passed, but following representations from a number of counties the national Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) is being asked to look again at how the format might be tweaked to better meet the needs of emerging counties.

THE motion proposing a change to the senior hurling championship was comfortably passed, but following representations from a number of counties the national Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) is being asked to look again at how the format might be tweaked to better meet the needs of emerging counties.

At the 2005 GAA Congress, and particularly during the preceding months, the debate on the opening of Croke Park to rugby and soccer was fractious and difficult.

The eventual decision to open the stadium to both codes during the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road was deemed a huge success on many fronts, even if some GAA members remained steadfast in their opposition.

Eight years on and a motion to open up a number of additional GAA grounds around the country to rugby to enable the IRFU host a future Rugby World Cup is again on the agenda.

The debate on the motion this time was in stark contrast to 2005. Last Saturday the discussion lasted just a couple of minutes with no delegate speaking against the proposal. Ninety-three per cent of delegates voted in favour. How times have changed!

The Football Review Committee (FRC) was clearly delighted to have its black card motion passed but it lost the argument to introduce a mark plus a clean pick-up off the ground. It was a small disappointment, but the major prize was won.

Hurling motions

While the FRC motions only related to Gaelic football, two of those approved should now be considered for hurling.

The obvious one is the use of the time clock for senior inter-county hurling championship games. It seems logical to have a standard process for managing the time in both codes.

The other successful FRC motion which has relevance for hurling is a clear and unambiguous advantage rule. Maybe hurling folk feel such a rule is not necessary, but its introduction would help referees.

The motion seeking to have inter-county teams announced four days prior to the game narrowly failed to get a two-thirds majority. Perhaps the proposed E500 fine was a step too far for some delegates.

This year’s Congress had many other highlights. One was a presentation from young GAA members who had attended the recent Youth Congress. Their enthusiasm, confidence and innovative ideas were warmly received by delegates.

When one young member mentioned the Harlem Shake I wonder how many Congress delegates knew what she was talking about. Not too many, I suspect, but it mattered little!

The attendance of President Michael D. Higgins on Saturday morning was another Congress milestone.

The President spoke of the central role which the GAA plays throughout Ireland and now in many foreign lands.

Beating heart

‘It is the beating heart of communities throughout Ireland’, said the President. His address was warm and sincere and he jokingly referred to a former holder of the office, Douglas Hyde, who in 1938 was dropped by the GAA as its patron for attending ‘foreign games’.

Given the President’s grá for soccer, he proffered the view that he would be in some bother himself right now if the same regulation was in place.

The President’s address set the tone for Congress last Saturday. Once he left the auditorium the debate on the FRC proposals commenced.

After such an uplifting address Congress delegates were in good form. It was probably the best time to talk about black cards and the end result bore that out.