The fashion for defensive play seems to be finally waning, and Croke Park have cleared their debt. Sean Cremin discusses the big G.A.A. talking points.
More open football?
It was the first week of the 2014 National Football League. There was a thrilling contest in Newbridge where Mayo and Kildare kicked forty one scores between them. Dublin dug deep to beat Kerry. Derry and Tyrone put on an exciting game, and there was also a big scoreline between Meath and Galway. Overall it was a weekend of open and attacking football.
So, are teams beginning to change their ways? The blanket defence has been the height of fashion in gaelic football for a good few years now. Tyrone, Dublin and Donegal are three examples of teams who were successful using defensive tactics. Last season, Dublin won the All-Ireland playing traditional attacking football. As the weeks progress, it will be interesting to see if teams maintain this open approach.
Croke Park debt cleared
The hierarchy announced this week that all debt has now been repaid on Croke Park. People will wonder if it’s a coincidence that this announcement was made in the same week that the venue sold out its fifth night for the Garth Brooks concert. The risk taken by the G.A.A all those years ago to turn its headquarters into one of the world’s finest stadiums now appears to have paid off.
Croke Park is something that the G.A.A should be proud of. While it’s huge in Ireland, in terms of the full sporting world, the G.A.A is a relatively small organisation. The occasions that the G.A.A were able to put on show last season were spectacular. The two All-Ireland hurling finals were two of the finest occasions ever witnessed. Having such a great facility has allowed the G.A.A to grow significantly over the years.
All-Ireland Club fixtures
The first All-Ireland club finals of the year take place this weekend. Some of the country’s lesser clubs will have their big day out in Croke Park when Ballysaggart of Waterford and Creggan Kickhams of Antrim face off in the Junior final. In the Intermediate final, Kilnadeema/Leitrim of Galway will play Rower Inistioge from Kilkenny.
This idea is great but the timing is not ideal. The senior club finals taking place on St. Patrick’s Day is a long tradition but with the way games are going there really is no need for these finals to be played in a different calendar year. These championships started in 2013 and should finish in 2013. It’s pointless giving these clubs long breaks over Christmas and then disrupting the schedules of competitions for the following year.
Third-Level games played on astro turf surfaces
The Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup were both on show again this week. The weather threatened to put a stop to all activity but alternatives were used through astro turf pitches. It may not be an ideal scenario for players, but the organisations involved should be applauded for finding alternatives at such short notice.
Firstly the availability of such facilities is a huge bonus for the G.A.A. CIT and IT Carlow played their game on WIT’s astro facility while UCC and Trinity College had their game moved to UL. We have seen synthetic pitches being used by professional soccer clubs, and while it’s not something the G.A.A should look into using full-time, it’s a very useful alternative.
Garth Brooks for an all-star?
How many players will get the opportunity to play at Croke Park five times in one year? Unless you’re a Dublin footballer the chance comes seldom; and any player who manages to play five games in Croke Park would generally find themselves in the running for end-of-season honours.
Events like concerts and rugby and soccer matches have obviously helped Croke Park shrug off its debt. The G.A.A obviously needs money to run and will try to maximise revenue but allowing five nights to a musician in the middle of summer is going a bit too far. The people at the top will struggle to talk about maintaining amateur ethos and so on if they continue to allow external figures to generate revenue. They need to get their priorities straight; for the G.A.A., hurling and football have to come first.
Pundit Arena, Sean Cremin.
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