By John Fogarty
The Dublin and Armagh senior football managements and their county boards have been criticised by GAA director general Páraic Duffy for exhibiting what he terms as "a failure of leadership”.
In his annual report for 2015 released this morning, Duffy comes down heavy on the counties in how they conducted themselves in the investigation arising from the violence during their challenge game in Glasnevin last summer.
He writes: “One of the most disappointing events of the past year arose from incidents in an Armagh v Dublin challenge match in early July. Dublin footballer Davy Byrne received nasty facial injuries, an incident which, it would appear, led to a brawl involving a number of players, and which led also to Davy Byrne being hospitalised.
“The efforts of CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee) to investigate the matter followed an all too depressing pattern. Even though the name of the player alleged to have been responsible for Davy Byrne’s injury was in general circulation, no assistance was forthcoming from the counties in bringing the player to account.
“When the injured player, along with officials from both counties who were present at the game, attended a CCCC meeting called to investigate the incidents prior to throw-in at the game, nobody could (or would) provide any information that would have allowed appropriate disciplinary action to be taken.
“Given the unwillingness of either county to co-operate in identifying any of the guilty parties, the only option available to the CCCC was the proposal of a fine, a penalty that was subsequently imposed at a hearing.”
Duffy argues omertà in such situations only does harm to the GAA. “It will be probably be considered naive on my part to criticise the position taken the counties, but the misguided loyalty that protects players who engage in violent behaviour on the pitch can only be seen, by those concerned with the good of the game, as a failure of leadership. Group solidarity is one thing; a code of silence that condones violence is quite another.
“And this is not just an issue for the counties involved in this incident. While a county may be pleased at avoiding the consequences of ill-disciplined behaviour, the reputation of the GAA suffers on such occasions.”
Duffy added: “We have all witnessed how elite professional sport has lost much of its integrity through a loss of genuine sporting values. Codes of silence and cover-ups reminds us that Gaelic games are not immune to such damage.”
Dublin secretary John Costello was also rebuked by Duffy after his claim last month the county received paltry return for increasing gate receipts last year. In his report, Costello wrote: “We don’t feel we have a sense of entitlement but we think that after a campaign that included a near full-house for our All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay against Mayo, the purse strings could have been loosened a little bit at least. It would appear Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge has taken up residence off Jones Road this festive season!”
Duffy fired back: “Dublin received the standard grant of €80,000 which goes to All-Ireland finalists. Having applied for additional funding due to their involvement in the All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo, Dublin were awarded a further €15,000.
“Considering that Dublin enjoys a much higher level of Central Council funding than any other county, that it enjoys vastly greater commercial revenues than other counties, that it incurs lower costs in terms of players’ travelling expenses to games and training than all other counties and that is has a far greater fundraising capacity than most, the charge of Scrooge-like behaviour against Central Council was disappointing and misplaced.”
Duffy also confirmed the scheduled completion date for the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh as June 2, 2017.