GAA director general hits out at "code of silence" over Davey Byrne incident

Paraic Duffy also stands ground on championship structure proposal

GAA director general hits out at "code of silence" over Davey Byrne incident

Paraic Duffy, Director General GAA ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The GAA director general Pauric Duffy has defended the Association's disciplinary system as he released a wide ranging annual report.

However, he also he was also critical when it came to the handling of an incident in a challenge match between Dublin and Armagh which left Dublin player Davey Byrne with damage to his eye socket last year.

"It will probably be considered naïve on my part to criticise the position taken by the counties. But the misguided loyalty that protects players who engage in violent behaviour on the pitch can only be seen, by those concerned with the good of the game, as a failure of leadership," said Duffy.

"Group solidarity is one thing; a code of silence that condones violence is quite another. We have all witnessed how elite professional sport has lost much of its integrity through a loss of genuine sporting values. Codes of silence and cover-ups remind us that Gaelic games are not immune to such damage."

On the pressing issue of the structure of the All Ireland championship, he believes that there was no better proposal for changes to be put before next month's Annual Congress other than the one that Central Council have suggested.

The basic idea of the proposal is that Division 4 counties will be part of their provincial championship but instead of the qualifiers they'll enter into a B Championship.

The Gaelic Players Association had signalled frustration that their own proposal was ignored when their Head of Communication Sean Potts spoke to Off The Ball and described the turn of events as a "slap in the face to our proposals".

But Duffy says there are many positives to the GAA's proposal.

"There are some advantages to playing in a competition where the final will be played before a big crowd in Croke Park on live TV," he said.

"And more importantly, it wins you a place by right in the qualifiers of the following year again against that at the moment appear to be better than you. We opened up to everybody. Can put forward a proposal that would meet the needs of lesser players, the championship structure. New ideas were in short supply."