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Ryan makes promising start as new GAA chief

By Declan Bogue

If the new Director-General of the GAA's first exposure to the national media was anything to go by, then it was a fine thing indeed to see a man speak some truths.

Even on the day it was announced that Tom Ryan would become the successor to Paraic Duffy a few weeks back, he came under fire on the radio, with one commentator - despite not having spoken to Ryan before and with no personal dealings - labelling it a depressing day for the Association, given his previous role as finance director.

That the GAA have presided over a period of financial growth and stability through a crippling recession seems to have been a point lost on his critics.

Either way, that was always going to be the first line of questioning for the man in the hot seat, and he answered those queries with some zingers of his own, two of which stood out.

The first was on the vexed issue of commercialism and the accusation that has taken root of the Association somehow 'selling its soul'.

"It would be lovely if there was free admission to all the matches and everyone saw everything free to air and we didn't have any sponsors. That would be lovely, but it's just not possible," he said.

And on the Club Players Association, he had this: "What they're seeking to achieve is not unreasonable. I think everybody would like to see us get to that stage where we have a decent fixture programme mapped out in advance for people. The difficulty is in the 'how' bit - how you go about doing that because there are all manner of local complexities attached to fixtures born out of the different shape and size of different counties.

"It is very, very difficult for us here in Croke Park to ordain to Leitrim versus Cork, what their fixture programme should be and to monitor that. The GAA is built from the ground up and that does entail a significant amount of local authority and local control."

The previous incumbent seemed remarkably blase about allowing untruths to go unchecked, but it doesn't seem like Ryan is the type.

Common sense and indisputable facts.

A steady start. A good pre-season session.

Belfast Telegraph

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