|The hardliner Republican will always stand for Ámhran na bhFiann…the fanatic GAA man will learn off the Association’s Constitution (it’s true!)…the soccer fan will never forget when we brought Spain right to the wire…Joe Deane will never miss…DJ Carey will rarely score…indeed, there are some things in sport that are certain…and there are other things that aren’t so certain…
One of these uncertainties is the future that the GAA faces if us, its patrons, continue to fight our civil war! It is no secret that recent years have seen a sharp increase in the amount of politics within the GAA. Not since the Parnellite split has the Association witnessed such turbulent times. We have seen constant arguing over articles within the Association’s Constitution, we have seen increased administration and distribution questioning, we have seen a players’ strike, we have seen disturbance within County Boards and in training camps, and, of course, we have seen those within and without the GAA debating the controversial issue of Croke Park.
Well, isn’t it time we realised what really counts? I have very strong opinions on the Croke Park debate, many people do. Some people insist that it should be opened while others demand that it remain closed…and many of these people, including myself, will harp our tunes until the issue is resolved – and beyond! This has got to be stopped! With the conclusion of the Croke Park saga a whole new range of controversies will arise. Indeed, after the debate has ended and the verdict has been reached people will again be immersed in continuous squabbling and bickering. Regardless of the outcome, our civil war will go on! But at what cost?
I, like many other Corkonians and Irish people, have views on those matters that effect my chosen sport. Those of us that are too young to have known the glory days of the 40’s and 70’s will hear stories of how the Association was relatively free of politics and cared about one thing – the game. This is the issue that I am raising here now.
I have taken for an example the Croke Park debate. My views on this issue are undeviating and very clear, as are many of those views held by other patrons of the Association. But, what I am asking is this – have we not forgotten what the GAA is all about? Ok, it is impossible to ignore the political side of it all as it does carry with it questions of identity and tradition…I of all people know that. I mean, I’ll be the first person to defend the GAA’s traditions when they come under attack and I’ll have no problem voicing my opinions on matters that effect the Association…but at the end of the day, what is it that we want? Do we want to win arguments, or do we want to win matches?
I firmly stand by my views of keeping Croke Park closed – and you all know my reasons for believing this – and I too had strong views on the debated articles and on the players’ strike etc……..but regardless of their outcome, and regardless of any future outcomes, where will I be in February? I’ll be in Páirc Uί Rinn…supporting the hurling masters, the camogie stars, and the football giants of the Rebel County. And I can guarantee you all that I won’t be alone! Indeed, regardless of the outcome of any debate that has been or will be, the die hard supporters, the true members of the Rebel Army will march…and we’ll keep on marching!
What I’m basically saying is this; if you’re a patron of the GAA, if you’re a regular face in the legions of the Rebel Army, no matter what your views are on anything political within the Association, when that ball is thrown in, forget them and worry about the scoreboard. I’m sure that many of you share my views on this as, after all, we don’t love the GAA because of the heated issues it gives rise to do we? No, we just love the game…and that’s what it’s essentially all about…Gaelic games! If Croke Park is opened to soccer and rugby, I’ll still be there in September to see us bring Liam home again…and again…and again…you get the idea! So, maybe I’m wrong, but, to me, at the very end of the day, when all the facts have been argued and the votes have been cast and the articles have been written…it’s the game that counts! We’re not top of the pile at 29 because we are a county of good debaters…we’re there because we’re a county with a great hurling tradition…and no amount of politics can change that!
I’m not asking you to discard your opinions, I’m the last person who would do or ask anyone to do that…all I’m asking is that we put our difference in opinion aside – our boys in red and white need our support! Of course, I’m sure that I’m preaching to the choir here and that no Corkonian will let political squabbling get between him and the Rebel Army’s triumph!
The time for the end of the civil war within the Rebel Army is NOW! We can’t go on arguing point…after point…after point! Whether you love GAA, soccer, rugby, all three…anything…if you are part of the Rebel Army then you must realise that it’s the game that matters! We must all realise this…I must too! When we’re all down the Park for a match come whenever, are we going to be shouting with, or against each other? United we stand when the National Anthem is played…united we cheer when the white flag is raised…united we freak (we do freak!) when the green flag is raised…and united we should be, when that final whistle blows…
Always stand by your views, but not at the expense of the Rebel Army. What I’m asking for is that all of us who are passionate about Cork GAA put outside our differences…and once again stand united. The time for political squabbling is over, it’s time we put an end to our civil war…at the end of the day, we only want two things…Liam and Sam…so isn’t it time we concentrated on the games. After all, there’s plenty to debate there! We all want the same thing at the end of the day, to see the GAA and Gaelic games flourish, but instead of celebrating the greatness of the GAA, we tear one another’s heads off and dish out further arguments. Let’s argue about players, let’s discuss the sports, let’s tear heads off over who is a better manager, where is a better venue, who should play where, who should get an All Star…the amount that has been left untouched because we have focused on politics is vast.
So what now? Do we continue to fight our civil war in attempt to win the political onslaught that is consuming the Association…or do we from now on focus on Gaelic games themselves – in an attempt to find answers to the questions that surround the greatest sports that have ever graced mankind?
I’m for option number two, focusing on the games…the question that remains to be answered is – who’s with me?
As usual, whether you agree or disagree with my views, I’d love to hear from you and get your opinions! My eMail is firstname.lastname@example.org
James O’Sullivan, Rebel14.