How GAA top brass have changed their minds

Change is the name of the game in the GAA at the moment but observers could be forgiven for noting the rise in rethinks, U-turns and changes of opinion from the top table. Here are four examples:

WHAT HE SAID THEN

“We have taken a decision that we don’t want any more inter-county games. Round-robin or group stages – whether in provinces or outside – would increase the number of games so any proposal that includes them will not be looked at any further.

"We’re simply not going to squeeze the clubs anymore. On the contrary, we’re trying to free up more time for them.”

GAA president Aogán Farrell, November 2015

WHAT HE SAYS NOW

“The new style quarter-final groups will provide members and supporters with the opportunity to see our best teams at venues around the country and the playing of the semi-finals on the same weekend will provide another carnival of games when people want to see them most.”

Farrell in his Congress address last Saturday

WHAT HE SAID THEN

“Clearly, you cannot have a principle that says we want to protect the club game and then turn around and recommend a proposal that increases the number of championship games.”

GAA director general Páraic Duffy in January 2016 at the launch of his 2015 annual report

WHAT HE SAYS NOW

“While this proposed format would increase the overall number of games in the football league and championship programme by six (eight extra “Super 8” games minus the abandoned Division 1 semi-finals), it also proposes that the playing of the inter-county championships be condensed and that the gap between games be reduced, and it demonstrates how this could be achieved.”

Duffy in “Proposal On A Revised Format of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship” document, October 2016

WHAT HE SAID THEN

“There’s a sense that the GAA belongs to everybody in Ireland, that it’s in every parish and village, and that there’d be enormous resistance if we were to take the games off free-to-air, even though the majority of the population probably has access to Sky.”

Duffy in Michael Moynihan’s book GAAcomomics , 2014

WHAT HE SAYS NOW

“There is sometimes this myth that this arrangement with Sky was foisted on the GAA by the people in Croke Park. Last year, which was terrific, a motion was brought to the GAA Congress and it said that Congress 2016 would enact a new rule that all televised inter-county championship games shall be available on free-to-air TV.

"The motion was defeated by 200 votes to 36. The point I want to make is people within the GAA understand why and they accept why. And I accept in the perfect world everybody would like every single game to be live and free on terrestrial TV but people understand in the GAA why some of our games, a small number of our games, are on a subscription channel.”

Duffy in front of Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Transport and Sport, January 2017

WHAT HE SAID THEN

At Congress in Derry in 2013, Duffy intervened at the end of the debate on Cork’s motion, devised by current CPA fixtures co-ordinator Derek Kavanagh, to bring forward the All-Ireland finals by a week.

While the football final would still be played in September, Duffy stressed the importance of retaining the GAA’s strong prominence in the month. The proposal received just 26% support.

WHAT HE SAYS NOW

“There’s a problem for clubs because the season drags on too long at inter-county level and clubs are not happy about it and we need to make some efforts to change that so we’re proposing bringing back the All-Ireland finals into August – both of them.”

Duffy on Newstalk in January 2017

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