It was one of the issues that newly elected president Liam Bermingham campaigned on. It was put on the docket by Seamus Dooley, the GAA vice president and chairman of the Monaghan F.C., who has rarely hid his distaste for the rule.
The vote was a surprisingly decisive 37-7, a reflection perhaps of the difficulties teams had last year actually getting these mercenaries to the pitch. Tighter controls by U.S. immigration authorities meant many were turned back at the airport. Their tickets, paid for by the sponsoring New York clubs, were not refundable.
There is a legitimate fear, of course, that without stars from Ireland, the GAA, which frequently draws sparse crowds in the dog days of summer, will suffer even worse attendances. The other side of the coin, however, is that if the better-off clubs can no longer reach deep into their pockets to bolster their lineups, there might actually be better competition and hence more excitement.
As Bermingham said, “Give it a year.”