Mick Foley joined Joe Molloy and Wooly to talk about the changes brought about in the GAA Annual Congress
The GAA Annual Congress took place over the weekend in the Mount Wolseley Hotel in Co. Carlow, as 65 motions came before the delegates, with some making the cut and plenty of others getting rejected.
Mick Foley joined Joe Molloy and Colm Parkinson on Off The Ball on Monday night to discuss the changes that took place at Congress, and what effects they would have.
Foley outlined that, despite the introduction of the mark being met with some dismay and disbelief from leading players and pundits, the motion to pass it had little debate. As Foley points out, that's not uncommon at the Annual Congress.
"The level of debate that goes on at Congress now is pretty brief,. For something like the mark, you'd think maybe there might be a few opinions out there, but it turns out there were no opinions there whatsoever."
"There wasn't a huge sort of reclaiming of the game from the traditionalists on the floor," added Foley, "it was more 'let's do this thing and see what happens'".
Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
The politics of the event are at the forefront over the two days also, with Foley highlighting that delegates will take positions that they themselves don't support: "Now you find in an awful lot more counties that they're mandated on everything [...] you do what you're told and that's the long and short of it. That stymies a bit of the debate on it".
However, there was one issue that did get people talking: "Nothing energises congress like the threat of less money coming in", Foley noted. "For example, the idea of free-to-air TV was drummed out in no time. It was a succession of guys standing up and going 'we can't be threatening the income of the association' [...] that sort of stuff still turns heads".
Image: GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghaíl with GAA Director General Paraic Duffy. ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
One of the issues that generated the most debate was the motion, suggested by Director General Paraic Duffy, that they move the dates of the All-Ireland finals to help to avoid burnout.
Speaking after the event, Duffy said "I think the club players will feel we've let them down a little bit", and Foley stated that, again, the consideration given to it was limited.
"From the debate that went on, it was essentially we're giving up 'x' weeks of promotional time, and a kind of a combination of that and 'we like having it in September [...] so let's just leave it'".
However, Foley noted that this was not going to be the last of "these burnout motions, this is the thin end of the wedge [...] if they don't start making some serious alterations, they're going to end up with a twin-track championship. You're going to end with with clubs and counties independent of each other. It's going to happen because the pressure on both sides of the divide is just too much to keep them together".
Foley added that those who are backing the motion would have been encouraged by how close the vote was, and are putting the motion forward knowing that "this stuff is two, three four years down the line, that's the long view you've got to take with Congress, that's the nature of the gathering".
For Wooly, that excuse didn't cut the mustard, and there was only one solution: "The idea of a restructure model that shortens the year into six months needs to be put forward, and inter-county players need to strike on it. When things like this go to Congress with a bit of pressure [...] that'll soon put a fire under them to change things".
Wooly added that nothing will get through Congress, and that "the only way to save the season and the knock-on effect on club players is to change the structure, and the people that have the power are the GPA and the inter-county players in this, because they are the cash cow. If they down tools, forget about it, the delegates will run scared. They'll do whatever they have to do".