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GAA are testing the loyalty of their patrons to the limit

Editorial

GAA are testing the loyalty of their patrons to the limit


First off, what a day it was for the loyal Mayo GAA brethren in Croke Park on Sunday. We went there dreaming of a famous double victory over the aristocrats of Kerry but by 4.05pm our dreams lay in tatters, as we contemplated the long journey home with hopes of Sam Maguire dashed for yet another year.
But come 5pm, the close on 30,000 supporters bedecked in Red and Green were back in full voice as we made our way out on to Jones Road, trying to comprehend what we had seen in an amazing second half.
This bunch of footballers owe Mayo absolutely nothing having gone to the last four in the championship for four seasons running but from somewhere they summoned the energy, with 14 men, for an almighty effort that looked to have blown a rapidly improving Kerry team out of sight.
But the Green and Gold are nothing if not resourceful and in a frantic finale they broke our hearts and clinched a draw which in the end, sent everyone home with hope in their hearts.
It was an occasion to savour and everyone seemed set for round two on Saturday evening, only to be plunged into uncertainty and bemusement with an impromptu announcement of a replay at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
What followed for the next 24 hours was another shambolic PR disaster for the GAA. Hot on the heels of the embarrassing Garth Brooks episode and the ‘leaking’ of the controversial Sky TV deal, the GAA decide to run for cover instead of adequately explaining why the game had to take place in the Gaelic Grounds.
As we now know, the ‘Croke Park Classic’ has been pencilled in for August 30 in Croke Park for months now and due to the other All-Ireland semi-final between Donegal and Dublin and the All-Ireland Hurling Final, there was no Saturday or Sunday left for Mayo or Kerry to play their replay in Croke Park.
It is incomprehensible to think the decision makers at the GAA headquarters failed to legislate for a replay but rather than come clean before the Mayo and Kerry game and make it clear to everyone involved that a replay would require a change of venue, they simply sat on their hands and dropped a bombshell when it suited themselves.
Then we get the spin of the decision being ‘good for the game’, as a big game is moved from Croke Park to another venue, when in reality we all know it is only happening due to the clash with the Croke Park Classic.
In summary, if the GAA wants to continue its flirtations with the corporate sector, it needs to come clean and start treating its loyal followers with the respect they deserve. While there are major logistical issues with the Limerick venue, it does have its advantages and these could easily have been put on the table well in advance of the last Sunday’s semi-final. Much like the handing of the Sky TV deal, the GAA needs to be upfront in their dealing with the grassroots of the association. Making unpopular decisions behind closed doors and then running for cover is something we are used to from political parties and we all know the difficult task they face to remain popular and relevant.

Contact
The Mayo News
The Fairgreen, Westport,
Co Mayo. t 098 25311
e editor@mayonews.ie