"Dromard GAA club hosting the Jamie Carragher Soccer School is not detrimental to the organisation... What is detrimental to the organisation is inconsistent decision making and the GAA not practicing what they preach."
Dromard GAA club in Longford were fined €2,000 last week for allowing the Jamie Carragher Soccer School to take place on its premises in August 2015.
In the same week, it was announced that Bruce Springsteen is to headline Croke Park on the last weekend in May, resulting in the rearrangement of GAA championship fixtures.
Both the Leinster SFC and SHC quarter-final double-header will now be brought forward to May 21st.
The GAA maintained that the counties involved, Wexford, Dublin and Kildare – were “happy to accommodate the switch to a new date”.
Evidently the players from these respective teams are avid Springsteen fans, or perhaps they are not happy with the fixture change after all.
Dublin county board deemed the fixture change as “unacceptable” as it will affect the Dublin SFC games which were due to be played during the week ending May 15th.
Dublin hurlers who play football with their clubs are unavailable the week prior to a championship game under bye-law.
All this is deemed acceptable by GAA president Aogan O’ Fearghail, because the profits reaped from the concert will be invested back into GAA clubs.
He told the Irish Times, “if we have a substantial concert here, which this has the potential to be, that has an incredible benefit for the clubs everywhere throughout the association, because it’s very clear what happens to any revenue that comes in through a concert. It goes back to special projects in counties and clubs.”
Returning to the issue of Dromard GAA club making its premises available to a “foreign” sport, were the profits they received from the Jamie Carragher Soccer School not invested back into their GAA club?
It has been argued by the GAA that because the Bruce Springsteen concert is not another sporting event, it does not contravene Rule 5.1(a) of the Official Guide, which governs the uses of GAA property.
The rule states GAA property, “shall be used only for the purpose of, or in connection with, the playing of the games controlled by the Association and for such other purposes not in conflict with the Aims and Objects of the Association, that may be sanctioned from time to time by the Central Council.”
It seems the conflict only arises when money isn’t generated from Croke Park events and when the profits go directly into the hands of those in charge of smaller clubs, and not the GAA big dogs.
A spokesperson from Dromard GAA Club advised me that the Jamie Carragher Soccer School had no effect on any GAA fixtures which were organised to be played on Dromard’s premises throughout the month of August.
Croke Park was built in 1884 for the sole purpose of hosting GAA games, until 2005 when the GAA central Council authorised the renting of Croke Park for events other than those controlled by the Association while Lansdowne Road was closed for redevelopment.
U2 performed to quarter of a million people in Croke Park in June 2005, and our national stadium has been hosting concerts ever since, despite the Aviva Stadium, which is largely unused for most of the summer, also being available.
Concerts being held at Croke Park was never an issue (well, until the Dubs complained about Garth Brooks) because the profits were used to help develop GAA throughout the country. It is a fantastic stadium and a perfect venue for a sell-out gig.
The problem arises when GAA fixtures have to be changed to accommodate alien events, and the GAA then hypocritically fine smaller clubs for also being opportunistic and renting their premises to other organisations.
Dromard GAA club hosting the Jamie Carragher Soccer School isn’t going to deter kids from playing GAA and is not detrimental to the organisation.
What is detrimental to the organisation is inconsistent decision making and the GAA not practicing what they preach.
Maybe Dromard should invite the Saw Doctors to perform on their pitch and see how the GAA react to that.