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New GAA president O’Neill set to tackle thuggery

The GAA is often regarded as cumbersome, particularly at the highest level, because of the range and depth of committees which help to steer the island’s biggest sporting organisation.

But new President Liam O’Neill who was installed as successor to Christy Cooney at Congress over the weekend has lost no time in revealing that he may now set up three new committees each with what he views will be “a vital brief.”

O’Neill, from Laois, has indicated that he is considering establishing a working group to review the current implementation of disciplinary measures and he will also set up a new Referee Development Committee.

In strongly condemning thuggery within the GAA he declared that “there is no such thing as an acceptable level of violence.”

And with the current recession taking a huge toll of club and county board finances, O’Neill aims to draw up an Officer Development Committee which will help and advise units of the Association in this difficult time.

“I believe that meaningful change can only be brought about if people are prepared to examine new ways of doing things and also possess the courage to implement change,” declared O’Neill.

“If change will better achieve our objectives then I will lead any effort to effect the required changes.” In some respects at least, Congress, normally a bastion of conservatism, has grasped the nettle of change.

Under a revised close season format, senior county teams knocked out of the championship in June can return to collective training on November 15, while a team that exits the championship in July can resume training on December 1. Teams who go out of the championship in August can recommence training from December 8.

Those teams who reach the All-Ireland finals in September can only return to training from December 29.

There will be no senior county training or games from December 21 to 28, while the months of November and December will be closed months from training and showdowns for all other county teams.

The often controversial square ball rule has been amended while the use of mouth guards will become compulsory for players up to Minor level from next year and for all senior players from January 2014.

Belfast Telegraph