It’s a fairly safe bet he didn’t watch Italia ’90!

Italia ’90 – even now, mention of the words together conjures so many memories. Pat Bonner’s grimace before that booming kickout against the Dutch, Genoa, Penalties, Bonner again, David O’Leary, the pub scene from The Snapper. Now read on…

Another recollection from that glorious summer prompted what you are about to intake. A proclamation by a former high ranking GAA official that he “Wouldn’t be watching that foreign game”. He was last seen working a plough with oxen!

That pitiful tale came back to mind during the week when long serving Cork official John Arnold resigned over the forthcoming rugby match between Munster and South Africa being staged at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. It’s probably a fairly safe bet he didn’t watch Italia ’90 either!

In a statement on his decision he berated Cork’s Co Board for “Basically promoting” the match in the oval ball game. Eh, yes, too right they should be promoting it if, as reported, those behind the often troubled venue are set for a €250,000 windfall from a bit of neighbourly co-operation.

Besides, it will by no means be the first crossover between GAA and rugby. Not just in terms of players either. As far back as 2002, Dunboyne’s Liz Gallagher – sister of Denis and David and wife of Kilmacud Crokes manager Robbie Brennan – broke the mould when, in her role as trainer of our club’s senior football team, based her work around the SAQ methodology. Speed, agility and quickness.

In other words, running through rope ladders, agility over miniature hurdles and, most significantly in my view, the incorporation of tackle bags into sessions – and matchday warmups.

All of the above being based on the ‘playbook’ of Mike McGurn. The Fermanagh native who had a transformative effect on the fortunes of the Irish rugby team before going on to leave quite the imprint on GAA teams also.

Where he led, others, like Liz, have followed. Most notably, people like Paddy Tally, Cian O’Neill, John McCloskey and, most recently, Niall Ronan – who, lest it be forgotten starred with Leinster, Munster and Ireland in the oval ball code.

Of course there are subtle differences in how each does their thing but the basic tenets of what they all do in some shape or form revolve around what McGurn espouses.

New Munster coach Graham Rowntree will pit his charges against the Springboks in Pairc Ui Chaoimh

But then, as was illustrated, and commented on in this space, most recently with the Jamie Clarke farce, sometimes GAA people can’t help themselves when it comes to making crators out of a few loose chippings in the tar.

Comparisons between what GAA in the Rebel County will attain from the occasion and what it stands Munster Rugby and/or the IRFU are moot. Like it or not, in many ways, money is the most important thing in the world. Cork of all people should know that given the travails they have endured since the re-development of ‘The Pairc’.

You’d wonder, though, would the same people kick up a similar stink about the singing cowboy being domiciled in Croke Park for the last week or the Irish looking Englishman Mr Sheerin togging out on at least GAA pitch. From both of which the Association would surely have garnered big bucks. Unlikely.

But then, you have to think it must be something in them that GAA people just can’t stop leaving themselves open to ridicule.

If Exhibit A was the silliness at the Cork Co Board meeting, then, unbelievably, Exhibit B wasn’t long about presenting itself.

However, before getting too far down this road, let it be said that it’s my understanding – and if this is incorrect please advise – that officials in Roscommon went as far as they could in handing down a 96-week-ban to the individual who heinously assaulted the referee during an underage match earlier this month.

Cavan referee Joe McQuillan sends Eamon McGee for an early shower

As there is a possibility the matter could go in a different direction, one is wary of saying too much, but, it can’t be sitting too well that within days of the sanction being dispensed, the ‘defence’ have indicated their intention to seek a personal hearing.

That is of course their right, and rightly so. However, given the glaring evidence and gravity of the situation, a suspension from a sporting activity might be the least of their worries.

That said, while public revulsion and outcry over the scandalous assault on the match official is wholly understandable and necessary, some of the hysteria generated by the incident called for implications that were well outside the remit of the administrators in the land of primrose and blue.

Now, at the risk of being a blatant hypocrite here, it will be openly admitted that there were times when the wheelchair saved yours truly from being a man behind the wire. Nonetheless, I think, and have done for a long time, that the GAA’s systems for dealing with sendings off and suspensions are draconian, unwieldy and open to far too much obfuscation. That’s a topic for another day, mind you.

In the meantime, the story which has dominated the second half of this offering should be enough to focus minds that the GAA have much more to worry about than Munster Rugby borrowing a pitch for a night.

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