By Pierce O’Reilly
We’re living in the age of technology — webpages, fiber optics, telecommunications, the so-called digital age — and then there in the middle of it all is siteless New York GAA. It’s disappointing, yet many would say not surprising, that New York GAA is probably the only affiliated association in the world that isn’t online.
A browse or quick surf of the hundreds of GAA websites worldwide will leave you in amazement. Amazement at New York’s lack of foresight and inventiveness. This summer, club managers, selectors and players will once again be on bended knee as the championship season approaches. The officials will be praying not only for success on the field, but also off the field.
"It’s a joke," one Club official said last week of the lack of an online presence. "Here we are in the digital age and us still relying on fax machines."
Clubs are up in arms with the lack of progress made by "high tech" president Monty Moloney. Here’s the scenario. Club officials in Ireland and on this side of the Atlantic must work in almost complete tandem if weekend sanctions are to proceed properly these days. The New York GAA is communicating at snail’s pace while the rest of the world flies by in fractions of seconds.
Sanctions should and could be handled much faster and easier on e-mail, thus eliminating the embarrassing situation that occurred on more than one occasion last season when intercounty players were left standing on the sideline because of paperwork delays. The history of the association, the number of clubs in New York, the minor board affairs, women’s GAA and lots of other interesting stories could all feature on the NewYorkGAA.com site. Instead, we see it’s "officially under construction" and it looks like it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
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We’re living in the most high-tech city in the world? Why can’t the GAA move with the times and join the millions of clickers and worldwide surfers who would love to read a weekly report on the happenings from Gaelic Park.
Praise is due to Stamford GFC, who have grasped the bit between the teeth and gone where few other Big Apple GAA clubs are willing to go. Another New York representative on the worldwide web is the New York Wexford Supporters’ Club. It’s a pity the yellow bellies no longer have a team pucking the sliotar around Gaelic Park. I’m sure if they did, people back home would have the privilege to read their results every Monday morning over coffee.
It’s interesting to note that one of the motions that will be put to the GAA’s Annual Congress in Dublin next month is that e-mails will in future constitute official notice. The laptop managers, earpieces and audio-visual links are on the way — well, at least in modern Ireland.
Speaking of websites, a day doesn’t pass without a new dotcom opening or closing. This week Gaelsport.com has hit America like never before and is eager to latch onto some of the millions of GAA fans worldwide.
Gaelsport is more than two years in development and is a world first in any sporting discipline. Utilizing state-of-the-art technologies. Gaelsport offers up-to-the minute news on all aspects of Gaelic sports at an international, national and county level.
Marketing manager James McCusker said that this is the best GAA site ever created.
"GAA people in the U.S. that don’t log onto this site will regret it forever," he said.
This is an innovative new company aimed at bringing Gaelic sports into the new millennium and to an online audience.
Speaking at the launch, Kieran McGeeney, Armagh captain and current all-star, said: "It’s fantastic to see the development of services like Gaelsport, which will launch the GAA into the new millennium. It is important that our games are marketed and promoted like other sports, and sites like this one are definitely a step in the right direction."
A bit of history
The GAA faces the near impossible task now of trying to complete the National Leagues before the start of the Championship. It appears that all games will now resume at the end of the month pending no further outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease. London folks, however, will not be allowed to continue. This is not the first time Gaelic games have been disrupted because of the threat of FMD in Ireland.
It also happened back in 1941 when Tipperary withdrew from the Munster football Championship because of travel restrictions, leaving Kerry to easily beat Clare in the provincial final. The restrictions, which were imposed from February to October, also forced the Tipperary hurlers to withdraw from the hurling championship. They were due to play Cork in the Munster semifinal. Kilkenny were not permitted to travel to play in the Leinster Hurling Championship either that year. The Leinster Council nominated Dublin to play in the All-Ireland final, where they lost to Cork, who had beaten Limerick in the Munster decider. When travel restrictions were lifted, Cork and Tipperary contested the "real" Munster final, which saw Tipperary winning 5-4 to 2-5. Dublin saved Leinster blushes when they defeated Kilkenny in the Leinster final, which was played in October.
Drafts get first airing
"It doesn’t make sense that you can win a junior championship with one club and a senior championship with another club in the same year," one GAA supporter said at Thursday’s weekly New York GAA meeting, clearly not impressed with the first reading of the drafts for the upcoming season. Indeed, newcomers to the crowd were baffled.
Players were moving from Celtics to Leitrim, from St. Raymond’s to Cork, from Mayo to Mayo, from Kerry to Kerry and many of them back again.
New York star Gary Dowd was down as playing with three different clubs: Leitrim, Clare and Tyrone.
The draft’s issue was introduced many moons ago, so players capable of playing senior football would not be deprived of the chance even thought their club was still playing in the junior ranks. Some clubs utilized the opening to their advantage by drafting their best players to play both junior and senior football for the same club.
In recent years, it appears that the genuine "good" junior footballer is getting the chance to play on the larger stage. However, many still question the need for drafts and transfers. To them it shows a complete lack of loyalty, respect and pride in your own club or county.
The final reading of the transfers also took place on Thursday, with question marks remaining over 17 players. New York center back Kieran Ryan, who was the center of attention for several weeks, will not line out with his home county, Westmeath, this season. Instead, the Mullingar native has transfered to Tyrone.
GAA no-show questioned
Where were those strapping young men and women of Eireann with their hurling, football and camogie medals across their chests last Saturday afternoon when they were needed most? A no-show by New York GAA at the St. Patrick’s Day parade along Fifth Avenue raised eyebrows from many of the thousands of spectators who lined the avenue for the gala event. Instead, the parade personal were entertained by the Japan Gaelic Football Association, who proudly marched in step along the avenue, delighted to get the free opportunity to showcase and promote their Asian championship.
Roscommon not happy
New York Roscommon delegate Jimmy Naughton voiced his anger with the decision by the New York GAA to bypass the primrose and blue county while in Ireland for their championship clash on May 19.
"It’s a disgrace, a complete joke and I’m disgusted by the move," Naughton said. "We now have a situation where players, their families and supporters have to travel for two hours after the game to get a bit to eat."
The New York footballers will not stay in the host county but instead at Hotel Westport in County Mayo. Their sojourn in the West is in keeping with the strike guidelines that president Moloney laid down back in January.
"We won’t set foot in Roscommon until the day of the game," Moloney broadcast from on high after the Connaught side refused an all-expenses paid trip to New York to play the game at Gaelic Park.
Moloney, it appears, can’t win in GAA circles. He sticks to his word this week and yet the Galway man comes out on the wrong side. New York stayed in Westport in 1998 during their first championship experience against Mayo, and, according to trip organizer Pat Gavin, a native of Westport, they were treated like lords.
Loughran boost for New York
The decision by Armagh star attacker Peter Loughran to stay put in New York for the upcoming championship has being greeted with a sigh of relief by New York manager Paddy Kearney. Loughran, who has lined out for the Orchard county on several occasions, is one of the most respected forwards in the game and his addition to the New York panel has further bolstered their chances for the game against Roscommon.
The New York hurlers are also in fine shape this season and with the team backboned by New York champions Tipperary, they are eager to win their first championship clash at Gaelic Park on May 13.