00:00 Saturday 26 November 2011  Written by Sln go Fill

Ugly incidents cannot be tolerated within the GAA

ABSOLUTELY disgraceful. Firstly, the carry-on at the end of the Connacht club football final where the referee was subject to verbal and physical abuse. There was a time when these scenes happened behind closed doors and no cameras were present. The GAA often did a good job of covering incidents like this, but that day is gone and rightly so.

Back in the early 1950s a junior B final in Clonakilty ended in a free-for-all, which continued on the streets of the town, being condemned off the altar by the local priests. At the convention shortly afterwards a prominent board official stated that such events do happen and that the GAA should do their best to cover them up when they happen. As a consequence, it was not the two offending clubs which suffered at the hands of the board but the Clonakilty club, who had banned both teams from playing in their pitch again.

We might have progressed from that kind of parochial thinking but we definitely haven't gotten away from the mentality that the referee is fair game at the end of matches. What should be done about these disgraceful scenes? The culprits must be identified by the Gardaí and the civil law must take its course. The clubs must be held to account and while fines are the usual way to avoid dealing properly with these situations, if necessary the offending club(s) should be banned from next year's competition.

By all accounts, we've had like scenes at a few underage games run by the new Rebel Óg county board in recent times, one happening last Saturday, and we don't exactly see any public consequences for those involved. Are we still in the business of covering up?

Secondly, the situation regarding UCC and the Munster club championship has become nothing short of a joke that is bringing Cork GAA into disrepute. This Munster final between UCC and Laune Rangers is not a clash between Cork and Kerry in club football but a glorified Kerry county final all over again. We've made our views known already on UCC's participation in the county championship but having two Kerry teams playing in a Munster final is surely downgrading the value of that competition.

We were led to believe from a correspondent to this newspaper that UCC would have wonderful support in their quest for the Munster title. Where were all those supporters on Sunday last when only a couple of hundred people attended the semi-final against Moyle Rovers of Tipperary? Of course Moyle Rovers shouldn't even have been playing in the championship as the real Tipp winners were banned because they picked players from about five clubs. What kind of justice and rule is that when UCC can pick from 32 counties for their team?

It's all gone beyond a joke as players who helped UCC to deprive a real Cork team of the county title will now line out against them in the Munster final. Once again we are afraid to see justice done in case we might insult some people along the way.

Away from the negative now and onto the positive. On Sunday afternoon a huge crowd turned up in the Rochestown Park Hotel for the presentation of medals to the various Cork teams, U14, U15 and U16, football and hurling, who had won various competitions during the past season. There was an amazing turn-out of young players and parents and let nobody say that Cork isn't trying hard to catch up with other counties at underage.

We may be still behind but the effort, totally voluntary by a lot of mentors, is underway and already bearing fruit. Pride of place went to a very talented bunch of U16s who became the first county to ever achieve the 'double-double', that is both A and B national football titles and A and B national hurling titles in the same season.

There are those who have their doubts about these development squads, saying it is singling out players at too young an age and that late developers are not getting a chance. Not so, as the squads are continually assessed and players who are not keeping up to the mark are allowed to go while mentors are always on the look-out for players who are developing as they grow older. All clubs also have the right, and are expected, to notify mentors of any player they thing deserves to be looked at.

At present the system seems to be working well up to U16 but there is a worry that the Cork minor set-up is outside and independent of the system. This means a lack of continuity between U16 and minor and the possibility that some of the players who have done very well up along the line could be overlooked by the minor selectors. The squad system does away with the old tendency for mentors to favour their own club players and all players are treated equally. Hopefully, we will see a proper tie-in between the squads and the Cork minors in the not too-distant future.

Following the presentation of medals on Sunday we made our way to Páirc Uí Rinn and took in the second half of the U21 hurling final between Midleton and Duhallow. Midleton, with some of the best young forwards in the county, were hot favourites but were never able to put away a Duhallow side which won most of the physical challenges. Yes, Midleton had more good hurlers but if I were one of their mentors, I would be worried about their inability to win dirty ball. As it was, had Duhallow converted two great goal chances in the closing stages, we would have had a surprise result, as Midleton only scored their goal in the dying seconds.

We met Jimmy Barry Murphy at the medal presentation, looking trim and fit, but we don't envy him his job of rebuilding Cork hurling at senior level. The only saving grace is that nobody is expecting much for a few years, so he will be given plenty lee-way. Respectability is the name of the game right now.

Conor Counihan was also at the medal ceremony and has anybody ever seen the Cork football scene so quiet? The footballers themselves are holding a fundraising day in Clonakilty on December 10th, including a Long Kick competition for adult and underage, beginning at 2.30pm and it should be a good day.

What is the football panel for 2012? How are the injured players faring and what team does Counihan plan to play in the McGrath Cup, which Kerry have decided to miss this year? Surely, Cork football fans deserve to be kept in the know. Isn't that what good PRO work is all about?

Talking of PROs, Ger Lane, the county senior board PRO, has come to the end of his term and will be a huge loss in that position, although he is contesting the vice-chairmanship. Ger has done tremendous work to haul the board into the technological era and the website is a credit to all involved. The fortnightly newsletter is also welcome and the speed at which results and match reports were made available was top class.

While there is a lot to be said about the time limit on officer terms, now and again an officer comes along who is ready-made for the job and does tremendous work. What a pity there isn't some clause that could be added to the rule to allow him/her to stay on in that position. Ger Lane is such an officer. Well done Ger and we look forward to your contribution in other positions.

The playing season continues and our two SW teams were out of luck in the concluding stages of the county leagues. Randal Óg lost the B football final by a single point to Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaidh while Bandon's long season came to an end when the lost the A football semi-final replay to Kilmurry. They won't complain at getting a break at this stage.

While the adult season is almost at an end, there seems to be no end to the underage season, with matches coming thick and fast as the lack of summer activity is now beginning to tell. Many pitches are now unplayable and the burden is falling on a few. Luckily, there doesn't seem to be any danger for now of the snow and ice we had this time last season, which brought everything to a shuddering halt. But ways and means must be found to have all underage games finished by November.

This week there is a special review meeting of the new East Region and it will be interesting to see what changes are recommended, if any. Any board trying to handle seventy clubs and playing over 2,000 games must be under severe pressure and full credit to the officers and delegates who managed to keep it going all season. But it is far too big and unwieldy and must be changed. We'll let you know next week what is happening.

We also had enquiries as to whether there will be any conventions this season for the new underage boards but we honestly don't know yet. As it is a two-year experiment, we may have to wait until the end of next season before any conventions are held.

At this time of the season we usually manage time for a look back at the past year at different levels but with all the playing activity, meetings etc, still going on, it's hard to find the time yet. Every Monday night the development squads, western players, are going through a conditioning programme in Ballinacarriga. First off, congrats to Randals' on a wonderful complex which is top class and well-used. The programme being done by the players is very basic and simple and we would advise all club coaches to pay a visit, between 7pm and 9pm, as this is something we should all be doing at club level.

At the recent seminar in Dunmanway, run by Cork Sports Council and Coaching Ireland, it was pointed out that up to 80% of young children don't do any physical exercise.

It is a frightening figure and the GAA has a huge part to play in changing that. Looking at that figure, and the growing problem of obesity, it's hard to believe that the government is actually cutting back on grants to many sporting bodies. There is no doubt that the voluntary effort will become more important as time goes by and the GAA has never been found wanting in that respect.

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