THE GAA urgently needs to review its disciplinary procedures, states Armagh County Board secretary Patrick Óg Nugent in his report to the annual convention on December 15.
He points out that the Ulster final replay against Tyrone in Croke Park is remembered more for the brief melee and the decisions taken by the referee rather than for the fact that Armagh won their fifth title in seven years.
In his view, what took place subsequently was “a farce.”
“There is little doubt that the referee (Michael Collins) did make some incorrect decisions on the day but he is only human and he called it as honestly as he saw it. He does not have the benefit of action replays. But for a body of people to sit and dissect the report and game at a later stage only further exasperated the situation, considering the number of other games and incidents that the same esteemed group (Central Disciplinary Body) decided to ignore,” he writes.
He describes situation as “a travesty”, as players in the middle of championship preparations were asked to attend “meeting after meeting” to defend themselves before receiving suspensions and then having them revoked.
He adds: “I don’t believe that there was any winner at the end but I firmly believe this whole area of our association needs to be looked at and lessons learned before the start of next season.”
Mr Nugent also has a swipe at the Games Administration Committee for fixing the county’s All-Ireland minor football quarter-final against Mayo for Hyde Park, saying: “I must remember to give the members a geography lesson just to remind them that Armagh play in Ulster and Mayo play in Connacht. For some unknown reason they seemed to believe that Roscommon was a neutral venue!’’
The same venue was chosen earlier in the season for Armagh’s NFL semi-final, also against Mayo. Again questioning that decision, he is more critical of the fact that Armagh were not informed that a ground inspection was to be carried out and were at the venue when the game was called off.
“How in today’s world of communications this situation was allowed to develop beggars belief and no acceptable excuses can be given or accepted.”
Eventually, the campaign produced a first-ever title for the Orchard county, when they beat Wexford in the final.
On an equally positive note, the Armagh Secretary notes that the decision of manager Joe Kernan and his co-selectors to commit themselves to the team for a further three years helped ease the disappointment everybody felt following the loss to Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Nugent compliments the Armagh ladies football team on winning the All-Ireland junior title and camogie player Colette McSorley on her award as Young Player of the Year. He also points out that in his new role as County Administration Manager he will be setting out to form a closer working relationship with the two ladies’ associations.