Category: Archive

Disciplinary debacle

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Three committees consisting of ten different people who’ve given a lot longer and a lot more to the association than Galvin examined the available evidence and agreed his suspension fit the crime.
Of course, the Kerry County Board is now reportedly considering going one step further and taking the case to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA). That’s their right and it will also be their wrong. There is nothing to be gained from fighting the Galvin case except dragging the name of the association through the mud once more. It’s not like Kerry need him to win the third All-Ireland in a row. He’s a very good player and all, but they are well capable of doing just that without him, even more so given how his absence is like to knock any underlying complacency out of the squad. Something Cork may discover to their cost in Pairc Ui Chaoimh next Sunday.
What the Galvin debacle does yet again is offer the annual opportunity to point out that the GAA’s disciplinary system remains an unwieldy mess. It’s amazing to think the best-run sports organization in the country is capable of producing an “allegedly” streamlined process that allows an individual transgression as reported by the referee to be examined four different times before the player must finally accept the verdict. This is beyond ludicrous. It’s downright embarrassing.
We’ve said this before but it’s worth reiterating. The GAA needs a full-time professional disciplinary czar (a former player of recent vintage) who does nothing else but educates players in the winter about the likely punishments for various offences and then sits in judgment on their transgressions in the summer. Once he hands down his verdict, one avenue of appeal should be allowed to a three-man committee consisting of the current president, the current chief executive and some honcho from the Gaelic Players’ Association.
As part of their desire to improve relations with Croke Park, the GPA could also play a crucial role in changing the prevailing disciplinary culture by demanding its members sign up to an annual charter vowing to accept punishments meted out to them. That would go some way towards preventing every sending-off or fracas turning into a soap opera stretching for weeks and garnering negative column inches that make the entire championship look shambolic.
With the sort of pared-down to the minimum structure outlined above, the initial sentence and the appeal could be handled within a few days of the sending-off and everybody could move on accordingly. Instead, at this juncture in the Galvin controversy, it’s risible that it’s already been poured over by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC), the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) and the Central Appeals Committee (CAC). The last crowd to be this in love with committees were the communists and looked what happened to them.
Surely, any punishment meted out requires a mechanism for appeal but three different avenues culminating in the Disputes Resolution Authority is really a bit much. Who are the DRA anyway?
“The Panel comprises Solicitors, Barristers, Arbitrators and persons ‘who, by virture of their experience and expertise in the affairs of the Association, are properly qualified to resolve disputes relating to the Rules of the Association’,” says their website.
Well, isn’t that exactly what the 30 other judges who’ve so far delved into the whole thing would argue they are qualified to do? Yes, but the DRA was put in place as a buffer to stop players and county boards heading to the real courts with their issues, seeking High Court injunctions and other unsavoury legal mechanisms that regularly circumvented the rules of the very association these people all claim to be upstanding members of.
That a device had to be put in place to try to prevent litigation sums up the other great disciplinary problem affecting the GAA. That’s got nothing to do with its own ridiculously committee-based system. It’s to do with the attitude among the rank and file, this tendency to not accept any punishment straight up lest some loophole be discovered that could yield a lesser suspension and make the useful player available for the important match. Maybe it’s something do with a post-colonial mindset, but we can’t seem to accept authority without trying to hoodwink it in some way or other.
The Kerry County Board should have turned around and told Galvin that, regardless of provocation, he embarrassed the most famous jersey in Gaelic football with his display of petulance and consequently, his punishment wouldn’t be appealed. That would have sent the player and all others with temperament issues a message about the price to be paid for misbehaving. Kerry didn’t do that because nobody else will do that either. Every county board in the land, including or especially Cork, seems to think it’s only right to try to pull every administrative stroke possible on behalf of players.
We all smirk when it’s our own stars benefiting in this way but that still doesn’t make it right. The whole mentality is about trying to get away with stuff instead of forcing individuals to accept responsibility for disgraceful actions. We know most players do not go out with the intention of doing something bad on the field but if they do we have to stop indulging them, babying them and apologizing for them. After the Galvin incident, the nauseous campaign on his behalf by the Kerry media mafia made him sound like an unfortunate cross between Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. Which we’re fairly sure he isn’t.

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