Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Sportsmanship impresses Cooney

GAA President Christy Cooney

The GAA has decided against bringing any disciplinary measures before next year’s Annual Congress in Downpatrick.

It had been expected after the narrow failure to secure a two-thirds majority last April that the GAA would return with revised proposals given the broad support for the experimental rules which were in place during the Allianz football and hurling leagues.

“Central Council after reviewing this year’s championship didn’t deem it necessary to bring forward a new disciplinary package,” said GAA president Christy Cooney.

“We will of course be asking referees to penalise very strongly foul play according to rule.

“But we have been greatly encouraged by the level of sportsmanship throughout the championship season.”

This development will come as some surprise to many who had pushed for reforms at Congress earlier this year.

Despite opposition from a number of high profile county managers the statistical research supporting the reforms was very persuasive. There have been no high profile outbreaks of indiscipline and disorder to far, but there is little evidence to suggest that cynical fouling has decreased dramatically,.

Events last Sunday at both Omagh and Breffni Park would suggest though that the GAA must be forever vigilant.

There was an undercurrent to the St Galls and Cavan Gaels match that has no place in the sport.

The fact Gaels finished the match with only 12 players says so much about Cavan football and their inability to maintain discipline under pressure.

Ironically the Tyrone final clash of Dromore and Ardboe, one of the best deciders in decades, was marred by an incident at the finish when referee Sean Quinn was struck on leaving the pitch.

The AIB Ulster club football championship gathers momentum later this month and it’s important that referees stay vigilant and clamp down at the earliest sign of foul play .

Meanwhile the draw has been made for the Northern Bank Ulster Club Minor Football Champions' tournament, organised by St Paul's GAC, Belfast.

Preliminary Round: (a) Armagh Harps v Killann Gaels (Cavan). First Round: (b) Creggan (Antrim) v Scotstown); (c) Kilcoo (Down) v Glenties (Donegal); (d) Dungiven (Derry) v Belcoo (Fermanagh); (e) Omagh (Tyrone) v (a). Sunday, December 20: First Semi-final: (b) v (c). Saturday, December 26:- Second Semi-final (d) v (e). Friday, January 1: Final.

The dates for the preliminary and first rounds will be announced later. All games at St Paul's Complex, Shaw's Road, Belfast with 1.30pm throw-in.

It’s a competition that grows in popularity with each passing year and some of the biggest stars in the sport first made their name at the Shaw’s Road venue.

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