Red flag issues: GAA must act more decisively

THE GAA has two red flag issues to deal with. One is, literally, that: the display by Cork hurling fans of Confederate flags at the All-Ireland hurling semi-final between Cork and Waterford at Croke Park on Sunday.

The other concerns the incident at the same match when Hurler of the Year Austin Gleeson was seen to remove Luke Meade’s helmet with his left hand.

It is possible — though unlikely — that some supporters waved the Confederate flag in ignorance of its American Civil War history and its modern role as a hateful symbol flown by white supremacists. Cork County Board has condemned the practice but the GAA could — and should — do more, by bringing in an outright ban.

The association also needs to clarify its complaints mechanism in light of the Austin Gleeson controversy. Its alphabet soup of committees — the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC), the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) and Central Appeals Committee (CAC) — appears unable to cope with the increasing physicality of hurling.

Referee James Owens’ assertion that he is satisfied with his own adjudication of the incident on the day is hardly
satisfactory in light of the television evidence of the incident.

Coaches are demanding more physicality from players,
expecting them to train like professionals, so what is needed is a more professional structure to deal with infractions.

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