READ THE REID: Matters off the field came at a bad time for Donegal

READ THE REID: Matters off the field came at a bad time for Donegal

It wasn’t matters on the field but off the field which dominated Donegal GAA last week. In what was our senior team’s most important game of the season, it is such a pity for the Donegal players and management that our treasurer decided to tender his resignation particularly at this time. I understand that our finances are under severe strain.

There is something distinctly unsettling with the current state of affairs within our GAA county board when our treasurer feels it necessary to step down a few months before his 5-year term expires. I do not know the facts but we need to hear the truth. I do not wish to condemn or condone his actions. This would be totally unfair and inappropriate.

I’m sure that the story will unravel in time. As the GAA season enters the business end of the year, the pressures on the participants both on and off the field reaches fever pitch. These pressures can bring out the best or worse in us. I had a ‘phone call from a GAA friend last week looking for support. He filled me in on the status quo in respect of Donegal County GAA Board. Since he is a genuine friend, I will protect his identity. And yes, I will help. I believe that the GAA nationwide is going through a revolution.

Financially, our product is being severely challenged while the entertainment value in the football championship has dipped to pathetic levels. After the first round of the Super 8s, the jury is still out. Hurling is experimenting with a similar format. It has its flaws already. Galway beat Kilkenny twice in the championship this year. Yet, Kilkenny still reached the championship quarter-finals. Limerick eventually knocked them out last Sunday.

The workings of an inter-county GAA board are like those of any business. There are power struggles within which divides.

Many years ago, I was brought in regularly before the main officers who accused me of bringing the association into disrepute because of the truth contained in the columns that I had written. I penned for a different paper back then. It was a form of control. As a player I was automatically a member of the GAA then. I’m not affiliated to a club these days and I’m not a member of the GAA. But the Donegal county board still try to control me, not only me but us, the sheep. The boys in Croke Park control the county boards. You can be sure that we are all pandering to those who control Croke Park in the final analysis.

A typical example of how the system works or doesn’t work is the inaugural Super 8s. As a reward for winning our provincial title, Donegal were thrown to the lions in our greatest colosseum in the country last weekend. The lions won, but they didn’t devour us. We came out fighting and are still very much alive.

All provincial winners should have had a home game against a qualifying team to kick-off the Super 8s. Our county board kicked up about the Super 8 fixtures recently and had a meeting with Croke Park to clarify matters relating to venue selection. Our county board agreed to these fixtures when the Super 8s were finalised at GAA congress in February 2017. The Cork county board in the form of Diarmuid O Donovan and the GPA’s Dermot Earley were the only spoken opposition from the floor that day.

Am I the only person who is confused and bewildered with the GAA? I love the game and I believe that player welfare is paramount. I also believe that the general GAA supporter is given little consideration. To ask a family, a couple or an individual to make the long haul from Donegal to Dublin on a Saturday evening is disrespectful.

The ordinary GAA supporter may never ponder the vast sums of money needed to run an inter-county team. Imagine how much money that would be needed if our players were being paid to play. I was always opposed to the payment of players but I feel that the GAA must seriously consider this eventuality. Players are training longer, sacrificing much more and running their lives in a professional manner without the professional rewards.

The Super 8s is a move towards the inevitable grading of the championship. I believe that the Super 8s will be turned into a Super 12 after the 3-year trial period has terminated. This group of 12 will be formed from league finishing positions which will also enhance the league itself.

Something has to give in respect of the football championship. It’s desperate stuff these days. I thought that the only decent game was the one between Dublin and Donegal. I thought that we played really well and that Patrick McBrearty’s absence was significant. As predicted, Tyrone also beat Roscommon which means that our second consecutive away game against Roscommon becomes crucial.

The O’Neill county are improving with every outing. They, like Donegal, will give Dublin plenty to think about in Omagh this Saturday. I don’t believe they will beat the reigning All-Ireland champions though. Donegal exposed their vulnerabilities.

Despite the boardroom squabbles, Donegal will prevail against the Rossies on Saturday. Then the show comes to Ballybofey. It’s us or Tyrone.

Tir Conaill Abu!