GAA taking lessons from Liam Miller tribute controversy to Congress

The GAA’s plans to relax rules governing the use of their property on foot of last year’s Liam Miller tribute controversy in Páirc Uí Chaoimh do not extend to club grounds.

The motion to amend Rule 5.1 of the GAA’s Official Guide which was revealed yesterday is only applicable to provincial and county venues. With the Miller situation in mind, the change has been made to accommodate non-GAA sporting events on a larger scale and not those that would concern clubs.

If passed at Congress in Wexford on February 23, Central Council will be empowered, in exceptional circumstances, to allow such GAA property “for activities other than those controlled by the Association in accordance with the policy adopted by Central Council”.

Not only is Rule 5.1 to be rewritten to give Central Council that authority, but it could be done so to read more positively. As it stands, it stipulates GAA property can be, from time to time, used “for such other purposes not in conflict with the aims and objects of the Association providing Central Council has sanctioned it”. The new wording would afford Central Council the same power but for “such other purposes, which accord with the aims of the Association”.

The motion would also supersede but incorporate part of the current rule, which related to Central Council having the power to authorise the use of GAA stadia for the possibility of Ireland hosting the Rugby World Cup 2027 — as was the case for the unsuccessful 2023 bid.

Numbered motion 19, it is one of 40 that will be debated in White’s Hotel later this month. Just 12 are proposed by units (only nine from clubs via their counties, five of which are age-grade-related).

Central Council are behind the other 28 — 17 on the advice of the Rules Advisory Committee, five as recommended to them by the Central Competitions Control Committee and four following a report by the GAA’s talent academy and player development review committee.

Donegal’s motion to prevent a team from designating Croke Park as their home venue in the All-Ireland SFC Super 8 is one of the more eye-catching proposals and will be the penultimate recommendation on the day.

If it receives the 60% support and Dublin claim this year’s Leinster SFC title, Jim Gavin’s side will face fourth-round qualifiers outside GAA HQ in their opening Super 8 game before returning there to face the Connacht winners in the Croke Park round - Round 2.

The last motion concerns Kilkenny club O’Loughlin Gaels allowing the GAA authorities to return both All-Ireland senior finals to the month of September. However, Central Council have a motion that would allow the GAA to fix All-Ireland finals not according to month but by the numbered week in the year.

Following the ‘Newbridge or Nowhere’ stand-off last year, a segment concerning safety has been moved to copperfasten the GAA’s power in organising home venues for all senior inter-county championship games.

In light of the number of teams who breached the training camp ban last year, the GAA hopes to alter the rule slightly. A camp would now be defined as one involving an overnight stay outside the 10-day window before a Championship or 13 days in relation to an All-Ireland final. However, counties can apply to the CCCC for a dispensation if they prove they are not upsetting club fixtures. Central Council will now lay out the phased inter-county training ban on an annual basis.

It is intended that players or officials facing proposed bans will now have one less day to reply to the charge. Stays of execution on pending hearing or appeal meetings will also be ruled out.

Last year, Clare co-manager Donal Moloney and former Cuala, now Dublin selector, Greg Kennedy were allowed to remain on the sidelines for games as they had served notice that they intended contesting suspensions — Moloney was later cleared of his alleged infringement.

Central Council also intends to alter the entire juvenile age grades for clubs. Currently it incorporates adult, U21, U20 down to U14/U13 and U12/11, but the new model would include adult (those who have turned 17 before January 1 of the Championship year), U19 (between those who turned 15 prior to January 1 of the Championship year and those who celebrate 19th birthday on or after that date), U17 (between those turning 13 before January 1 and 17 on or after that date), U15 (between those turning 11 before January 1 and 15 on or after that date) and U13 (between those turning 9 before January 1 and 13 on or after that date). However, there are four alternative motions from counties.

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