'Ludicrous Liam Miller memorial match refusal by GAA is beyond comprehension'

'Ludicrous Liam Miller memorial match refusal by GAA is beyond comprehension'

DO you remember those stories about soldiers who came out of hiding in the jungle claiming to be unaware that WW11 had ended decades before?

I remember such stories popping up throughout the seventies, eighties and nineties.

They were usually stories about Japanese soldiers who had disappeared into thick forest somewhere and carried on the fight by refusing to surrender.

They had to be persuaded that the war was actually over.

I’m not quite sure how true any of those stories actually were, but nevertheless I have to say they have come to mind recently and they have done so thanks to the GAA.

The GAA has made the news recently because they have refused to hold a charity ‘soccer’ match in the newly refurbished 45,000 seater Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork.

The charity match in question is a fundraiser for the late Manchester United, Celtic and Ireland international footballer Liam Miller, who was from Cork.

He died of cancer this year, four days before his 37th birthday, leaving behind his wife and three children.

Fundraisers have organised a football match in his name where a host of famous footballers will appear.

There is huge demand for tickets, a demand that far exceeds the capacity of Cork City’s Turners Cross stadium.

It is worth noting at this point that the refurbishment of the Cork GAA stadium at Pairc Ui Chaoimh was supported by public money through the government.

Now the GAA may well reverse their initial refusal, such has been the outcry, but it is this initial refusal that tells us a lot about the mentality that still persists in the association.

It is not only a mentality that is ludicrously outdated but one that is laced with hypocrisy.

The hypocrisy is that the GAA’s protection of all things belonging to the proud Gael does not extend to refusing the shilling of sponsors such as Coca Cola or the American confectionery company Mondelez to name but two.

It does not extend to having any objections to the stadium that can’t be used for Liam Miller being used to host a concert by Ed Sheeran earlier this very summer.

The GAA, it seems, will not bend in its protection of Irish culture unless there are substantial revenues to be made.

As for the ban behind the refusal to allow ‘soccer’ to be played on GAA turf, well, it is almost beyond understanding.

For one, the GAA has won any battle it might have had to embed itself in Irish society and culture.

It is not in any danger of withering away.

Irish domestic ‘soccer’, by contrast, is a weak, struggling thing.

If the ban is not for protective reasons but is instead for reasons of opposing the ‘foreign’ game, well, that is almost beyond arguing with.

In a country wide open to the global world, in a country awash with international influences, just like any other western country, a ban on ‘soccer’ just seems bizarre.

Hello, GAA, do you know it’s 2018?

Has anyone told you about the internet in every Irish house?

Or if the ban is a relic of past times, of old hatred, of old fights, well, what can you do but feel sorry for those living in that world.

If you hate the English so much you can’t even watch ‘soccer’, in the very year the whole world has just played it in a tournament, I can only offer you my sympathy.

Every time the GAA is discussed in the Irish media it seems as if those taking part have to express their admiration for the work the GAA does.

It is as if the GAA is riddled with an inexplicable insecurity and cannot be criticised without being cuddled too.

Well the Liam Miller affair has shown up some deep fault lines in the GAA that don’t need to be prefaced by reiterating how good the GAA is and what an integral part of Irish life it is.

The cultural war against ‘foreign’ games is over and only those hiding out in the jungle believe otherwise.

And the pedestal the GAA has put itself on is not one we all have to continuously acknowledge.

In this instance the GAA has shown itself to be ridiculously outdated and organisationally immersed in a battle no one else is fighting.

It needs to realise there are no holy untouchables in Irish society anymore and no one whose authority is beyond questioning.

It’s time the GAA coped.