O’Neill: Cut out the nonsense

GAA President Liam O’Neill has condemned the unruly scenes at the start of Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final between Kilkenny andTipperary.

The game was delayed early on as a group of players became embroiled in a melee at the Hill 16 end, and while Kilkenny manager Brian Codydownplayed the scenes after the match, saying “I wouldn’t say it boiled over. It was just the usual bit of pushing and shoving and stuff like that... It was just good manly stuff,” O’Neill was clearly unhappy with the fracas at GAA headquarters.

However the president said yesterday that such incidents “doesn’t benefit the game in any way” and, significantly, O’Neill added that if there were a repetition of such scenes then that “will have serious implications” for those involved.

Asked if there was a danger that such scenes could be replicated atother levels of the game, O’Neill said: “I don’t know to be honest. It didn’t benefit the game in any way and it doesn’t benefit the game in any way. That would be our attitude. If this continues it will have serious implications. We wouldn’t want it to go any further, certainly. The heart of the matter is this: We play our games to showcase the skills of hurling and Gaelic football. That’s what we want to promote, not anything else.”

O’Neill’s comments will put the spotlight firmly on how Barry Kelly handles the All-Ireland final between Kilkenny and Galway — and in particular how he deals with any melees early in the game.

O’Neill also commented on recent criticism of the decision made by the Central Council of the GAA to back the IRFU’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup.

Michael Greenan, former chairman of the Ulster Council, told the Irish Examiner earlier in the week: “We have prostituted ourselves and the bottom line is when you have prostituted yourself for money, the people who make the money are not the prostitutes but the pimps. We all know how much the GAA got for making Croke Park available but does anyone know how much the soccer or the rugby boys got out of it?”

O’Neill rejected suggestions that the GAA would suffer as a result of supporting the IRFU’s World Cup bid and offered a strong defence of the GAA’s position.

“The Rugby World Cup isn’t going to make or break the GAA,” said O’Neill.

“It’s about what this could do for the country. While we can’t deliver the World Cup, if we went with those who disagree with us, we could stop it. That’s not where we want to be or what we want to be about. We want to be about inclusion, looking at possibilities and seeing if we can enable possibilities. That’s what we’re about ourselves all the time.

“The fact of the matter is that the request was put to us. It’s not something we thought up — it was a request that was put to us. At themoment all we’ve asked is that the motion be put on the Clár for Easter.

“It got 100% backing from Central Council. Unanimity. That’s what we’re going with. Everyone on the Central Council is a long-serving GAA personality; they’re the GAA as much as any other group.”

Also considered by Central Council last weekend was the paper on payments to inter-county managers, prepared by Paraic Duffy. The paper outlined three options to deal with the matter — maintaining the status quo, enforcing the rule on amateurism more strictly, and allowing regulated payments to inter-county managers. O’Neill said he was happy with the general response so far to the document.

“We were asked to address the issue and we’ve had a very positive response to our proposal from our clubs and counties,” said O’Neill.

“We believe we’ve given them a means by which this issue can be addressed.

“If someone comes up with a better way, then that’s fine too, but at the moment this is the best option that we have.

“I’m not interested in the past and how things were done then — my job is to facilitate the future.”

O’Neill was speaking at the Munster GAA Irish course held in Coláiste na Rinne, Co. Waterford.


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