G.A.A. are pricing themselves out of the sports market
Published 09/07/2016 | 00:00
I am normally very positive about the way the G.A.A. runs its affairs, but a number of negatives have re-surfaced in my mind which need to be addressed.
Firstly, our two marquee teams have played home championship games in a seven-day period and the attendances combined failed to reach the 5,000 mark.
In a sports-mad county it doesn't take an expert to work out that there is a serious underlying problem with this statistic, and for me the reasons are pretty obvious.
The basic combined cost for entry to the Minor (Croke Park) and Senior (Wexford Park) games last weekend was €55 per person, and for a family that figure can reach serious multiplication levels before you factor in travel and food costs.
Quite simply, the G.A.A. are pricing themselves out of the market. On Saturday with the game on live TV the choice can be very simple, particularly for the lukewarm follower.
Ten to €15 (not 20) should be the maximum charge for qualifiers and 20 to 25 (not 35) for Sunday's Leinster final.
Affordability will still be a problem for some, but the G.A.A. needs to pay more than lip service to its culture of being an organisation dedicated to its members by showing high attendances are more important than gate receipts.
If they are sensible about it one will drive the other.
I won't labour on the Mark Fanning-gate penalty incident on Saturday but, allied to the Christy Ring debacle, issues like this are becoming all to frequent.
It's not possible in all games, but surely where you have television cameras at many different angles they should be utilised to liaise with the officials rather than to have the pundits berate them after the game.
Believe it or not, although now in my early fifties and some 90 yards away I felt it was a goal (I always had great eyes), but had Offaly won by a narrow margin the Croker hierarchy would have had some headache on Monday morning.
My third issue relates to the Minor game. Rory O'Connor, the Wexford captain, was dismissed with a straight red card on the stroke of full-time and barring a successful appeal he will miss our quarter-final.
Given that the Dublin player wasn't visibly injured, that it was the last second of the game, that the player involved is Minor, and that there was a huge element of frustration at that point for Rory who - to put it mildly - had been the subject of particular Dublin attention all through the game, I feel that discretion should have been used rather than the harsh punishment meted out at that stage to the young Wexford captain.
I would like to view the tackle again and admit that it was mistimed. And I have sympathy for referees who are now more subjected to incredibly strict guidelines and scrutinised to within an inch of their lives.
However, in this situation I feel nobody would have complained if red wasn't shown, and I have always been a champion of allowing a referee within reason to use his gut feeling in addressing the seriousness of an incident when coming to a decision.
Enough giving out for now, well done to the Wexford Seniors who well merited their win on Saturday with some great performances all round.
Mark Fanning, Diarmuid O'Keeffe, Lee Chin (we are a different side with this man on the field), Podge Doran, Conor McDonald and the 'Mick The Millar'-like David Dunne excelled.
We have the best draw in Cork so it will be interesting to see what we do with it.