EARN the Rules like a [...]; You Can Only Stand Back and Admire the Picasso-Esque Creativity Used to Get around Training Restrictions, with No Apparent End to This Production Line of Bogus Masterpieces

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), April 21, 2019 | Go to article overview

EARN the Rules like a [...]; You Can Only Stand Back and Admire the Picasso-Esque Creativity Used to Get around Training Restrictions, with No Apparent End to This Production Line of Bogus Masterpieces


EARN the rules like a pro,' once intoned Pablo Picasso, 'so you can break them like an artist.' ' With that philosophy had he the good fortune to be born Pol O Cathasaigh, his ability to deliver surreal brush strokes on a blank canvas would have been put to far better use over here and made him a county board treasurer in the process.

Because there is nothing more GAA rule makers love than finding ways past the very rules they are charged with upholding.

As far as some of us are concerned, the highlight reel of last year's Championships featured a queue of rule book artists painting up a comedic storm, rather than anything witnessed on a field of play.

Some county boards were caught in the horns of a dilemma - forced on one hand to serve the needs of their core constituents with April designated exclusively for club fixtures while, on the other, facilitating the | THE plight of Valentia's GAA club, who featured on these pages earlier in the year, was framed grimly this week when they could not field a team for their county JFC clash with Duagh.

The club's motion, which sought for Under 17 players to be allowed play for junior clubs with only one adult team, was rejected by Congress in February.

In truth, had that motion passed it would not have helped them this week- their motion excluded U17s from playing championship - but it did underline just how fragile their future is.

And when a club like that cries out for help, the GAA should think long and hard before saying no.

needs of county management teams who must always be heeded.

To make the job easier, they had the full backing of the GAA rule book, specifically Rule 6.22 (b) which states: 'senior intercounty panels shall not be permitted to go on training weekends, or training of longer duration, after the final of their respective National League having been played, except during the 10 days game, or during the 17 days prior to an All-Ireland senior final.' It would have been easier if they were in the business of taking care of club business. But the reality is that the rule was an obstruction for some when it came to facilitating the pre-Championship preparation of their county teams.

What to do then? Why, of course, they summoned their inner artist and painted up works that Del Boy Trotter would have been proud to exhibit on the walls of Nelson Mandela House.

It was estimated that 17 counties breached rule 6.22 (b), but just three - Armagh and Laois footballers as well as the Waterford hurlers - were sanctioned and forced to forfeit home advantage in one round of this year's Allianz League.

Their only crime was that they admitted to it. They did not bother with the paint while the other's slapped on their beret and overalls, mounted their canvas on an easel which had been set up to have the best possible view of the rule book.

Their impressionist take of it reduced the weighty tome to a mere comic.

The Dublin footballers headed to France in unison, packing history books instead of training bibs, as they surveyed the battle of the Somme before returning home to massacre Wicklow.

The Wexford hurlers headed to the Algarve with the official line that a couple of boys thought that a bit of sun, sea, sand and sangria was the only way to warm up for the Leinster Championship and before they knew it the whole panel had travelled with them.

And while they were there who did they bump into in a karaoke bar but only manager Davy Fitzgerald, and he belting out My Lovely Rose of Clare.

You could not make it up, which is exactly what they told the GAA's investigating committee when their county board successfully contested the Central Competition Control Committee's (CCCC) sanction. And without proof to the contrary, Croke Park could do little but swallow hard.

Armagh, even though bitten last year, are back at it - heading to Portugal this week for a training camp. …

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