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Five signs we are in for another 'mad' GAA season

March isn’t yet in, but we already have GAA madness in abundance. GAA correspondent [b]John Fogarty[/b] sets out five examples of how some have recently been losing the run of themselves:

[b]Case #1.[/b]

Meath’s postponed clash with Cavan, rescheduled for Sunday, means they will now face into at least six weekends of action as their O’Byrne Cup final against Westmeath is pushed back again this time to March 11

That would be no problem to the likes of Jim Gavin, who believes the league should be run off as quickly as possible — “we justplay seven games in the league, it should take seven weeks” — but then Gavin is speaking from a ridiculously envious position of strength.

There are many teams who couldn’t dream of being competitive in such an intense, short space of time. Also, what if just one of those games fell foul of the weather?

The GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee would have no choice but to fix a match for midweek and then all hell would break loose regarding demands on players. In fairness to Gavin, he has stated he would prefer a later start to the league, which would reduce the risk of games being postponed, but choking an already suffocated league would be logistical and competitive folly.

[b]Case #2.[/b]

Gavin is right on one count: The Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups shouldn’t overlap the Allianz Leagues. We should believe him when he said he didn’t compel Brian Howard not to line out for DIT.

However, and this is certain, he has created the environment whereby Howard felt he had no option but to focus all of his attention on Dublin. The Raheny man wouldn’t be the first inter-county player to face such a dilemma and concentrated on county pursuits. Across the association, there are young players having to make sacrifices they are not comfortable with. Like the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cups, the U20 is now a transitory opportunity to play alongside those of similar age, but because of a GAA rule, the best in several counties will be asked to give it up for the sake of playing senior inter-county football.

A measure introduced to ensure the development of players is done in a healthier, more timely fashion will discriminate against those who feel they can’t say no to the needs of the county’s seniors. As for the leading college competitions, the message conveyed by Howard’s decision is clear: As one significant winner of All-Ireland SHC medals and All-Star recently told us, they are the next Railway Cups.

Brian Howard

[b]Case #3.[/b]

The ire expressed by the likes of Offaly goalkeeping coach Brendan Kealy about Sunday’s postponed matches underlines the need for the GAA to review its protocols on matches threatened by weather.

As forecasts become more accurate, the reasons for not having alternative venues on stand-by 48 hours in advance or postponing the game well in advance don’t hold up. Last-minute calls just won’t do when there is so much at stake, from the demands placed on players to the financial cost of the visiting team to travel a second time.

The concerns expressed by Croke Park about the mounting money spent by boards on teams ring a little hollow when they are twice asked to fork out for travel, accommodation and food for the same fixture.

[b]Case #4.[/b]

Some of the reaction on social media to how Tipperary selector Shane Stapleton incurred the unfortunate head injury, which required him to be hospitalised after Sunday’s Division 2 game in Ennis, was dangerous, to say the least. As Eoghan Cormican of this parish reported, momentum appeared to carry Jamie Malone into Stapleton, for which he apologised. The incident earned Malone a red card, but there appears to be a question about its validity, just as there would be about those keen to pin Stapleton’s injury on a premeditated attack by the Clare player.

[b]Case #5.[/b]

If this outgoing Central Competitions Control Committee are consistent, Galway and Mayo can expect proposed four-figure fines for their teams’ bad behaviour in Sunday’s Division 1 clash in Pearse Stadium, though there didn’t appear to be much going on if you were to believe Galway manager Kevin Walsh, who told one print journalist: “You’ve seen more than I have, being down on the sideline.”

Now, we can understand Walsh might want to play down a series of second-half spats and his use of the word “handbags” (how long before that expression is deemed politically incorrect?) would tie in with that. After all, Galway won and they want to move on as quickly as possible, but Walsh was as close to the action to be considered an eyewitness, albeit an unreliable one. To claim he saw no foul play, he must take us for mad.

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Read more of John Fogarty's ramblings every day in Examiner Sport.