Dublin and Mayo will have to do it all again following an enthralling Senior All-Ireland Football final at a soaked headquarters yesterday.
The 129th edition of the football decider bore witness to a 2-9 to 0-15 stalemate between the nation’s top two sides, featured two own goals and a 77th minute equalising point which resulted in the battle for Sam Maguire remaining undecided.
Now, facing a first replay since 2000, both sides must pick themselves up from yesterday’s emotional rollercoaster and start the build up again for the biggest prize in the game in two weeks’ time on October 1st.
Therein lies the issue right there.
The Dublin and Mayo panels, coaching team, backroom staff and even the players’ families must now commit to another two weeks of all consuming preparation for a re-run of a Championship final.
In the modern era, or dare it be said, any era for that matter, the notion of replaying a Championship decider is a totally foreign concept outside of the GAA. Imagine the World Cup final ending in a draw and teams and spectators alike having to file out of the stadium, only to return at a later date to try again.
In any tournament this concept seems bizarre. So why does it feature in the GAA? Tradition? Just because something has been done that way for generations does not automatically make it the right way.
These days there is more pressure on players than ever before. Remembering that these athletes are not professionals, they do not receive a working wage for the efforts. However, the time that is committed to training, nutrition, travel and matches suggests a level of professionalism far beyond the amateur status in which these sporting heroes are regarded.
Furthermore, the demands of an inter-county player sees them having to balance their sport’s time demands with a professional career and family.
Ask almost any panel member, however, and you will not hear them complain. It is the love of the game that drives them.
Nevertheless, at what point should a professional organisation like the GAA draw the line when it comes to reaping the rewards of such ‘amateur’ commitment?
The need for a replay now puts players’ lives on hold for another two weeks. Work commitments and family holidays may need rescheduling, personal lives left on hold. Nominal expenses for players just does not cover the ‘human’ cost of a prolonged season.
Meanwhile, as the players marched back down the tunnel yesterday, soaked fans filed out of the stands carrying with them the knowledge that the hard-earned money they had parted with for coveted All-Ireland Final tickets did not result in a satisfactory conclusion to the decider. The ultimate question remains unanswered.
They must now attempt to both find and then fund another trip to Croke Park, certainly not an easy or inexpensive proposition.
The only winner from yesterday’s installment of the football decider was, of course, the GAA. Gate receipts totalled into the millions, with further commercial revenues from sponsorship and television rights ensuring that the coffers at Headquarters are ready to overflow. The prospect of replay revenues will certainly have the ‘bean counters’ smiling broadly.
Dare it be said that a professional organisation, a very rich one at that, which earns massive amounts of money off the back of an amateur sport, should now, in the interest of the modern world in which we live, finally forego the antiquated notion of championship final replays and consider the more universally accepted concept of extra time?
The purists and traditionalists will reject this suggestion as heresy. Perhaps they are right. From a traditional and GAA history perspective, maybe we shouldn’t question the GAA’s replay oddity.
From a financial perspective the GAA will not want a change to their traditions. There is simply too much at stake. But at what point do we stop and call it for what it is, an outdated concept that, in today’s world, serves the rich at the expense of the poor.
Like every fan, this writer is passionate about Ireland’s national sport. The GAA is at the heart of communities across the country and has served and supported the country for generations.
However, in 2016, the concept of the Championship replay must now, finally, take it’s place in Irish sporting history rather than try and justify it’s place in the present.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
Read More About: all ireland replay, All-Ireland Final, dublin football, dublin v mayo, dublin v mayo replay, extra time, Football, football replay, GAA, gaa news, Gaelic Football, gaelic football news, may football