OPINION

GAA Congress 2021: Some movement in graves detected, not seen since 'Ban' was lifted

A look back at the first ever GAA Congress, held remotely

Tommy Callaghan

Reporter:

Tommy Callaghan

Congress 2021: Some movement in graves detected, not seen since Ban was lifted

Larry McCarthy and John Horan

The things one does on a Saturday during a pandemic are mixed and varied. How about tuning into GAA Congress (zoom) for as many hours as fingers on your hand.
Missed most of the discussion on the finance side of things. Then again there was nothing there that we did not know heretofore.
No games, no revenue, no income, no plans, no idea when things might resume, county or club, kids or adults, nothing.
First face that came up on the zoom screen was a familiar one.
John Horan.
An tUachtaráin.
About to hand that job over to a new man, who was making a little bit of history.
Well in fact, it was a big bit of history.
The first overseas person to have the presidential medal pinned on his lapel.
And for the next three years at that.
Anyway there was the bauld John, ready to go through no less than 47 motions on the agenda.
Sorry, clár.
The powers-that-be on this occasion had already indicated that about ten of the 47 would not be discussed on the day as they (powers-that-be) having decided to shove them on to a Special Congress later in the year, when, hopefully, there could be a face-to-face gathering.
Does someone know something that the rest of us don't I wonder to myself.
Maybe Micheál dropped a bit of a hint to John, or more likely to his fellow Corkonian, Larry, that by the time the Special Congress is due to be held, we'll be in the clear.
All the 85-year-olds will definitely have had their jabs by then and all going well, a fair few of the younger folk (the 70-year-olds) will have had their first shot also.
So from Kerry to Antrim; from Wicklow to Galway; overseas delegates from across the pond; not forgetting New York and God only knows where else, some 210 delegates or so participated, well at least tuned in to, the first ever GAA Congress on zoom.
Great little world isn't it.
Who would have believed it.
No one present.
Yet everyone present.
Don't know where exactly An tUachtaráin was but he was on screen most of the time.
There he was in full control, directing operations, attempting to give everyone and anyone that was entitled to have a say, to have a say.
A bit like the covid injection, everyone is entitled but some may have to wait to get in before others.
Not sure how many times we heard An tUachtaráin say “Joe Bloggs (from where ever) we have unmuted you on this end, can you unmute yourself now, and then you're on.”
What!
Can you unmute ...
Unmute, please.
Oh God, think I'll put on the kettle.
Still, all things considered, it went off reasonably well.
This was congress remember, not the covid injection roll-out.
No doubt by the time the next zoom congress comes around the connectivity will have improved, delegates will by then have completed a GAA course on how to mute and unmute; the incoming president could be coming through from Tooneendaughtneybeg, Dublin will be going for their 21st title in a row and, with a bit of luck, we will all have received our vaccinations.
One of the glitches that raised its head with a few delegates when a vote was called, saw them experience some difficulty accessing the button marked tá or níl, However the back-up was available and those particular folk were asked to drop an email to a named lady in Croker and their vote would be included.
Seemingly the tUachtaráin told delegates (before I realised I had nothing better to do on the day) they hoped to have everything wrapped up by four bells, and that included his (John Horan's) farewell address prior to him pinning the presidential medal on new man, Larry McCarthy.
Now the fact that that had already been done (a bit like one of those cookery programmes on the telly, one I prepared earlier) and in a very nostalgic bit of filming we were shown John replacing the PM (presidential medal) into its case and then a minute later pinning it to the man from New York.
All that was missing was a tear but Dubs don't do tears although one might expect a New Yorker might drop a tear or two — but then I remember Larry is originally from Keano country, and showing emotions is not part of their make-up.
Anyway to get back to the clár, the motions, all 47 (minus ten) of them.
And we're off to the perfect start when motion no. 1 was also no. 1 to be kicked down the road to the Special Congress.
We picked up a bit of pace with no. 2 getting the nod, the financial year now ending in September.
Why? Don't know.
Anyone enquire? No.
Next up was another of the kick-it-down-the-road ones to the Special Congress.
On and on we went the odd delegate finding the unmute button, coming in, saying nothing worthwhile and off we went again.
Diverse motions on such topics as who would sign a team sheet; one on the closed season with a word change from “time to time” rather than “annually” while the maor foirne were made redundant.
Riveting stuff or what.
Next one was about joint captains not being allowed to collect the cup after a final and while we were told this did not need to be passed as the powers-that-be had the power to implement it, but passed it was.
So why was it on the clár in the first place I wonder to myself.
A few more kicked down the road, another few getting the green light before one of the biggies arrived.
Yes. At last.
The Split Season.
Hard to believe this but after all the years; after all the discussions; after all the rows, arguments and disagreements the Split Season motion went through quicker than you know what through a goose.
Sam (Maguire) and Liam (McCarthy) will now get new homes each year no later than the last Sunday in July, just in time for the August Bank Holiday.
A host of motions to be got through after the dinner, the lunch or whatever delegates choose from their own kitchens.
But really there was only one motion everyone was waiting for and you could feel the tension rise.
A different type of tension, a zoom tension, never experienced heretofore.
Time arrived, whisper it.
The cynical foul.
And whisper it even quieter.
The cynical foul in hurling.
Wash your mouth out as the parish priest used to say in times gone by of such impure thoughts.
Brian Coady must be pulling his hair out (sorry Brian too late for that). The Cats maestro being a firm believer there should be no such thing as a black card in hurling, or for that matter a yellow or even a red.
I cod you now.
The hurling aficionados were reaching for the unmute button with undue haste.
Limerick were firmly against. And they were not alone. Kilkenny, hardly a surprise; the GPA (are they still with us?) also wanted it postponed.
With Larry The Rebel from New York about to take up office, hardly a surprise Cork were firmly in favour. Wexford followed suit as did Offaly, with Michael Duignan, not just chairman of the Faithful County, a former All-Ireland hurling medal winner (x2) but also a television and radio commentator, sure I said to meself, you couldn't vote against after such a heavyweight giving the motion his full imprimatur.
After a lot of muting and unmuting, some, including Kildare (first time The Lilies fell into the hurling aficionados category), opting to put the motion into the kick-it-down-the-road category, the vote was taken and passed 168 to 108, just squeezing past the 60 per cent majority required.
So for the 2021 season, a cynical foul, in a goal scoring position, will see a penalty awarded, the perpetrator getting a ten minute rest in the sin bin, hurling and football, but only at senior inter-county level; and to be reviewed in 12 months time.
Bodies in graves that have not turned since the ban was lifted were suddenly on the move again!
There may have been a fair few motions to still get the green light, but they all got the nod. eventually.
The outgoing An tUachtaráin, incoming tUachtaráin gave their addresses before some impressive footage of the Presidential medal being pinned on to Larry McCarthy who will now (presumably) be sporting a new address for the next three years in The Croke Park Hotel, Jones Road, Dublin 3.
We wish him well!