Kilkenny senior hurling selector Martin Fogarty issued a hard-hitting statement last night, likening the decision to introduce the new sideline rules in the GAA to “dictatorship”, describing recent comments by GAA president Liam O’Neill as “outrageous” and adding that O’Neill was “sticking the boot in at every opportunity”.
Disappointed with lack of consultation
"If decisions are made in a club or indeed in any workplace by one party that affect another party, without consultation and sensible discussion, there is going to be anguish, friction, resentment, or at the very least a very strained relationship between the concerned parties. Some people call it dictatorship.
We in the GAA are all supposed to be part of the same organization, working for the betterment of our games, our players and our supporters. We are all from Clubs and Counties and want to see our teams do well. Basically we are all supposed to be on the same side, striving to make our games better than the others games and attract more players and supporters. The players, team management, County Board officers, delegates to various meetings, representatives to various committees, provincial appointees right up to the very top positions of General Secretary and President are all supposed to be batting on the same side.
Recently we have seen various members of team managements speaking out against the new match regulations while it appears that their elected delegates to central council either voted in favour of the regulations or did not speak out against them. What is going on? Where is the consultation even within Counties?
The new match regulations disappoint me because they have thrown two units of our association into needless conflict. Two groups (ccc and central council, I think) of well meaning members of our association drew up the rules without any consultation with the people that they affect ie. players and management.
Most of the people that passed the rules would have given very little thought to what they were passing, they probably did not consult their respective county boards and they most definitely did not consult the very people they should have spoken to- their team management.
Telling others how to do their job (when you really haven’t a clue what that job involves) is a common failing and cause of resentment in many walks of life.
Many of the people making these regulations, even though they do not realise it, are miles removed from the reality of what is involved in working with teams or else they just do not care. If they did care they would consult the people their decisions are affecting first. Most of them have never been on sidelines and if they have, they haven’t been on lines where the stakes are high and the pressure is savage.
It’s a pity because many of their decisions just cause aggravation and make the job more difficult for people that are actually “on the same side”, are in the same organization and are just looking after their teams as best they can.
In Kilkenny, everything that affects teams is brought to team management’s attention by the Co. Board officers and discussed. Following discussion the Co. Board then makes it’s own decisions, having considered all opinions. That is how democracy is supposed to work.
How many people on the CCC or Central Council or indeed at Co. Board level have asked themselves the following questions or have sought the opinion of the people the rules affect, team management and players? Very few, if any I think.
1. How can two people look after about forty hurls, a supply of spare helmets, maybe a few pairs of boots and deliver water to players that are spread out over an area of 145M x 90M
2. How can a player get a drink in the heat of battle, in maybe an All-Ireland Final, if he has to leave his marker and go to a water station that could be 100M away from him? Everyone in Croke Park except the players can take a drink whenever they want it. The people that are providing the entertainment, filling the stands and working to exhaustion are denied a drink by others whose contribution to the days entertainment is to sit in soft seats and retire to the lounge for refreshments at half time. They can even bring their coffee out with them to the soft seats if they wish.
3. How can a selector discuss players and team issues if he is sitting up among the subs and beside spectators? Even if he is in the box in Croke Park discussion on a walkie-talkie is very very difficult for him and for the Maor Foirne or Bainisteoir who are trying to hear him on the noisy sideline. As far as I can see the new regulation has basically made the position of selector untenable.
4. What is wrong with having a Doctor and Physio on the line where they can react immediately to players needs. Why should the Referee have the added burden of having to call on a medic? He has enough to do and what about the consequences if he makes a late call or fails to make a call.
5. What is wrong with the County Secretary sitting on the line writing out the slips for substitutions instead of the manager having to shout him down from the stand every time he is considering a change?
Probably 300 security people parade on to the sideline for the last ten minutes of every game in Croke Park blocking several views. Camera people, stewards and an array of others have access to the pitch and nobody sees any problem. Yet there is a problem with the handful of people who are looking after the most important people of all- the players. Management don’t tell the officials who can or cannot sit in the Ard Comhairle, they don’t tell them when they can go get a drink of water, how long speeches should be, they don’t tell them how to organise fixtures or venues, organise security or stewarding because they (management) don’t know what is involved in these jobs. Why then are management dictated to by people who have never managed? Let everyone in this organization do their own job and not interfere with others who are doing theirs and doing it quite well.
I am very disappointed with the Uachtarán who I though, being a hurling man from a small club in Laois, would understand the needs of hurling as opposed to other sports. Instead he appears to be sticking in the boot at every opportunity and finding problems where there are none. His recent outburst against managers is outrageous. His comparisons to Rugby and other games make no sense. Hurling is a unique game. Rugby is much better viewed on TV so it suits managers to have laptops and there is no switching or moving of players. You are not likely to see the hooker told to mark up his opposite out half in a game-winning move. Ironically in this game of Rugby that the Uachtarán so badly wants to mimic there is no problem with people running in to players with water during a break in play. Is it a case of picking and choosing what suits? All this messing with rules is achieving, is that it is throwing people that are supposed to be working together, into needless conflict- Team Management, Co. Board Officers, Central Council representatives and the CCC. I say leave things alone, stop trying to fix things that are not broken."
- Martin Fogarty