Colt Gaels and Shanahoe Gaels were two of the Gaels teams to compete in 2017.
The proliferation of combined, or Gaels, teams was one issue urged to be reconsidered as part of the Laois GAA Strategy and Action Plan.
Nickey Brennan, who chaired the committee which compiled this report, offered his view as an outsider. “Coming as I do from outside Laois, I was surprised at the number of combined teams involved in various Laois competitions in 2017.
“I fully understand the reason for combined teams, but the process by which such teams are formed is woefully inadequate and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
Remarkably, the committee counted a total of 87 combined teams to have played in Laois during 2017, between football and hurling, at all grades, from juvenile up to senior. The breakdown was 48 in football, and 39 in hurling.
The issue of combined teams was a recurring theme for the Review Committee as they carried out their work, and they noted. “Many stand-alone clubs, on the other hand, felt that approval to field a combined team is often granted far too easily, with the winning of a county title often the primary motivation behind a combined team request.”
Many of the combined teams paid little attention to geographic factors, and the recommendation from the committee was for all future Gaels teams to be structured geographically as much as possible.
This section of the report also dealt with Competition structures and scheduling, with the senior football championship coming in for criticism, while the senior hurling received positive feedback.
Issues were also raised at Go Games level, both in the distance teams have to travel for games, and also with some clubs only bringing the minimum number of players to games, thus leaving the opposition with too many of their players on the sidelines.
Discipline also came up for discussion, with the report noting. “The opinion was regularly expressed among club members that there are major inconsistencies in how the GAA Rule Book is applied when dealing with disciplinary matters.” Laois GAA were urged to be much stricter in their application of the Rule Book.
Also dealt with here were intercounty teams, with a number of intercounty players spoken to expressing their disappointment at the negative perception from Laois supporters of their performances.
The players also felt that intercounty squad fringe players should be released to play with their clubs for league games throughout the season.