Munster GAA secretary Kieran Leddy has hit out at the “cowardly” online abuse aimed at Clare secretary Pat Fitzgerald.
In his report to the province’s annual convention next Friday, Leddy expressed his disappointment to learn of what the Sixmilebridge man has been subjected to.
“I was saddened to read about the level of abuse on social media platforms directed at one of the province’s longest serving GAA administrators, Pat Fitzgerald of Contae An Chláir, and his family.
“The Fitzgerald family have given years of service to the Association at club and county level. I know Pat for many years as a very hard-working and dedicated GAA administrator, who goes well beyond the call of duty. The abuse is a cowardly act by the perpetrators.
“There is no doubt that, while social media has its positive points, the unfettered ability of people, often acting behind pseudonyms, to direct sustained and vile abuse at individuals and organisations, is undoubtedly a major downside. The negative effects of this are well documented.”
In his report, Leddy also called on the organisation to tackle the issue of cynicism in hurling. Following a 2020 All-Ireland SHC which featured several cynical fouls, the standing playing rules committee have put forward a proposal to punish such play that prevents goal-scoring opportunities with a penalty as well as a sin bin for the offending player.
Leddy doesn’t make reference to the recommendation but remarked: “There is a debate at present as to whether cynicism exists in the game of hurling and at a level that warrants action by way of new rules. There can be no doubt that there were some tackles of a cynical nature in this year’s Championship, and these tackles denied clear scoring opportunities.
“The number of them is irrelevant in my view. It is important that the Association deals with this question now, as opposed to take a ‘wait and see’ approach.
After calling for a split season in his 2020 report, Leddy is delighted to see it becoming a reality albeit because of Covid-19.
“The reaction from clubs and club players was overwhelmingly positive, as they had a clear and concise programme of championship games, with their inter-county players available to them for the entire window.
“'21 will see the split season become a reality, with the inter-county championships pencilled in first, followed by a club championship window. It does mean that once we return to normality, the All-Ireland finals will be in July.
“An argument can be made that finishing the ‘shop window’ of intercounty activity so early will result in a loss of media promotion etc. However, there was never going to be an easy solution to the club fixtures problem, given the nature of our Association, with two codes and players playing across codes with a number of teams, etc.
“Therefore, we must arrive at a solution that achieves our core aim, which is to provide club players with clarity of dates. Hopefully, the split season will help us to achieve this aim.”
Of the All-Ireland SFC proposals put on the table, Leddy prefers the four provincial conferences of eight as opposed to swapping the National League format into the Championship and making the provincial championships secondary competitions.
“The task force also has a number of recommendations on the future of the provincial football championships. Ultimately, it is counties that will decide the future of these competitions.
“Certainly, moving them to early spring to act as warm up competitions for a new look All-Ireland format, will severely diminish their status.
“There is no doubt that there are issues of dominance in our own province, but this year’s provincial championship victories for Tiobraid Árann and for An Cabhán in Ulster show that these competitions in their current position hold a special status for players and supporters alike.”
Leddy reveals that the Munster Council accounts for last year showed a €843,732 loss largely due to “the collapse in gate receipts owing to our games being played behind closed doors, along with a major reduction in funding from Central Council, commercial income and so on”.
Gate receipts dropped from €5.354 million in 2019 to €453,265 last year, commercial income reduced from €712,143 to just €27,455. Central Council funding also decreased from €2.06m in 2019 to €698,678 last year.
Over €1m was saved in match day costs as well as €700,000-plus on field rents. Games development was more than halved from €2.008m in 2019 and team costs were down almost €300,000.
Leddy defended the GAA’s decision to see financial assistance from the State.
“I am sure many will wonder why an Association like the GAA needs Government intervention. The reason is simple in that the policy of the Association has always been to reinvest its income back into the development of the games, through grants for capital development, grants to assist with the employment of 370 Games Development Staff around the country, grants to counties to assist with team preparation costs, rent to grounds that host games, investment in the Player Injury Fund and so on.”