In this week’s Limerick Leader column, the Secret Junior Footballer outlines his issues with the GAA.
This time of year is tough for junior clubs for a lot of reasons. You’ve got midweek games to contend with, you’ve got players going on holidays and sometimes clubs resort to playing – shock horror – illegal players just to get eleven players on the pitch or to have a few subs on the sideline.
The biggest stumbling block in August and September however, is the GAA. The bloody GAA. We drive to matches not knowing if our handy right winger or our young keeper will be there because there’s some Junior B county quarter final the following day and their coaches have been telling them if they tog out for us they’re finished.
I thought the days of the ban on foreign games were over but the old style Vigilance Committees are back. Gangs of GAA ‘officials’ would roam the country on the lookout for hurlers and Gaelic footballers breaking their bizarre rules by playing soccer or rugby up until 1971. 1971! And we wonder why we can’t produce a top quality football team in this country! 1971, or so we thought.
During our weekly Sunday morning hammering last weekend, the mentors from our neighbouring GAA club were spotted hovering around the entrance to the club, shaking heads, flailing hands and stamping out cigarettes.
While the manager was turning the air blue in the dressing room after game, one of our players was checking the 7 missed calls and 14 text messages on his phone.
Voicemails from grown men telling him to forget about playing for their club again, accusing him of turning his back on his parish. A lesser boy, and he’s still just a boy, would have retreated into himself but this kid is better than that and he did what you do to any bully. You stand up to them.
For such a magnificent organisation, the GAA has some backwards thinking buffoons at local level that still keep the game in the dark ages. They shamelessly scheme, coerce and guilt young players into playing largely meaningless games, knowingly keeping the football team across the road in the doldrums.
Still out through injury, the Secret Junior Footballer might form a Vigilance Committee of his own. A Vigilance Committee to stamp out Vigilance Committees, created to keep these characters away from our sport and protect the sanity of our players. Our communities are small enough, getting smaller through emigration and we’re driving out young people away from sport through an appalling tug-of-war.
Is it too much to ask for some joined up thinking to keep our players eager and active, physically and mentally strong that doesn’t revolve around forcing them to choose and excommunicating them when they do.
Who knows, it might be mutually beneficial. In theory, our own manager could be even worse than the ones calling and texting to abuse the ‘dual’ players in our squad.
He might be ringing to give out about fellas choosing GAA over soccer but I doubt it, there’s no way in the world he’d spend his phone credit.