Cooney: We're not proud of O'Byrne brawl

GAA president Christy Cooney is hopeful that the scenes of unrest which broke out at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise in Sunday’s O’Byrne Cup quarter-final between Laois and Kildare will not become commonplace this year.

GAA president Christy Cooney is hopeful that the scenes of unrest which broke out at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise in Sunday’s O’Byrne Cup quarter-final between Laois and Kildare will not become commonplace this year.

Five players – three from Laois and two from Kildare saw red cards for their involvement in the 30th-minute brawl, with two more players dismissed in the second half through second yellow cards.

“There are seven officials involved from the association and they seem to have dealt with the situation. Let’s see what comes from the referees report and it’s a matter for Leinster CCC to deal with it,” Cooney said at the launch of the 2010 Ulster Bank Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups at Croke Park yesterday.

“We would hope that we don’t have a repeat and any stage this year and that we would have the standard and the quality by all our players that we had last year. It was tremendous and we want to get back to that. This was an unsatisfactory start but lets move on. Let the CCC deal with it in Leinster and show the appropriate suspensions under rule.”

Cooney says that a separate committee to examine possibly disciplinary rule changes was not setup in the past year, because officials were happy with the current rules.

“We took a decision at Central Council because things were going extremely well in our association last year that there wasn’t a significant need to be revisiting the changes. If referees done the competent job that they did last year we shouldn’t have any problems.

“That is still the situation but it’s not to say that our referees won’t be enforcing the disciplinary rules that are there in our rulebook. They certainly will and they have been told to do so, so there is no issue.

“We will always continue to monitor exactly what is happening on the field of play. There are no motions with regard to disciplinary rule changes going before congress this year. In actual fact we made the decision at Central Council not to do it. But we will continue to monitor it and if we need to we will look at it in due course.”

The Playing rules, including the GAA’s new experimental rules such as the mark and the handpass rule will all be voted on individually at Congress in Newcastle in April.

Cooney is hopeful that feedback from players will be taken into account by delegates from the respective counties.

“We’ll go through them during the national league and see how they work. I’m keen that the players will give some decent feedback through their managers to the County Board so they will hear exactly at first hand how the players feel about it.

“Then that weekend (of Congress) County Board officials will come to Congress in April and they will be well aware of the players views and the managements views and that we’ll make a decision on what is in the best interests of football going forward. That’s how I see it operating. If the changes are appropriate and right then so be it and if they are not so be it.

“There is no hard and fast situation around any of the recommendations being made. The two committees took some time and make the recommendations that they felt were appropriate. They are not mind boggling changes – they are very significant. If they are appropriate they are appropriate and if they are not they are not.

“That’s why it’s so important for our players to get the views back to their team management and in turn give them back to the County officers so that a reasoned decision is going to be made at Congress this year which is very important.”

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