Has the GAA already gone beyond a tipping point?

UCD professor Paul Rouse on the structural issues

Has the GAA already gone beyond a tipping point?

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Grealy

The latest GAA Congress came to an end this weekend and it has raised a number of issues both in the build-up and in the fallout.

The relationship between the GAA and its players both now and with an eye to the future is one for example and UCD professor of sport and Irish history Paul Rouse touched upon that when he spoke to Off The Ball.

"There is no doubt that the basic structures of the organisation are no longer fit for purpose," he said.

"And it is not necessarily a simple disconnect between players and officials. I think it seems to me to be abundantly clear that that there are huge swathes of the playing members of the Gaelic Athletics Association who do not get the chance to play and when you have something as basic as that happening in terms of important matches, you haev a problem.

"And equally, there is an inter-county scene which is functional to a very basic level, but only to a basic level, and it's going to be very difficult to see how the changes that were introduced in the last weekend will fix either of those two problems."

At the grassroots level, Rouse points that every county in Leinster has lost teams with the sole exception of Westmeath.

"And if you look across at all the teams that are being fielded, there are fewer players on the sidelines and I think what this is, is people basically deciding that it's actually not really worth it," he said.

"But we shouldn't get carried away about this. The love of playing football and hurling is immense and it is carrying people for now. But to presume that it will remain as such with current structures is to my mind is to make an assumption that will be borne out to be false." 

While Rouse expects the new Super 8 structure in the All Ireland football championships to be a success, he emphasises that it will not solve the fixtures issue that has been bubbling under the surface.