Feature: A GAA call to Santa

With Christmas around the corner, Michael McMullan pens his letter to Santa Claus based on his GAA wish list for 2024

1 Ticket prices THE GAA scored an own goal by increasing the price of their season ticket and taking out the first championship games. While I do take on board there were years with a price freeze, they need to have a proper think of the people always being asked to put their hands in the pocket. Us media folk and the GAA decision makers never have to pay into games. We need to be doing everything in our power to reward those who go to our games most often.

2Proper hurling promotion I’LL just keep beating this drum. The GAA needs a proper plan in place to grow the game of hurling. When I mean the GAA, I mean from the top which is then drip fed down into the county boards.

If we look at the investment put into the Dublin football model and the results, it speaks for itself.

Money isn’t everything. You need people to lead but a few bob helps and especially in a game like hurling where equipment prices are an obstacle and there is a need to get the skills in place early on. Counties could think where the JP McManus million is used.

3Proper respect, proper discipline I SEE Dublin referees making noises about forming a union. It would be an excellent idea. It is the referees who hold the real power in terms of cleaning up the games. They need some sort of input into the appeals’ process that see so many red cards overturned. There are some that need rescinded due to referee errors but it’s a joke. Nobody takes their oil.

On the flip side, if referees aren’t cutting the mustard they don’t get promoted to the bigger games. The respect is a two-way street but if the GAA are not going to punish those who abuse referees, they are right to down tools.

4 Embrace integration TAKE a look at any successful organisation and the best people are involved regardless if they are male or female. If they have the skills, they get the job. It should be the same in sport. More often we are seeing females taking leading roles within GAA clubs. And rightly so. At the end of the day, it is the skillset that makes the difference.

With the amount of issues creeping into the fixture allocation in the female codes of our sport, there needs to be the same joined up thinking that prevents dual male players from having their games falling on the same weekend.

We need the entire GAA family to be under the one roof with the best people in charge.

5Making GAA sustainable MUCH of our society has changed to the coffee shop and gym culture taking over from the pint and filled soda. It’s great that we don’t have to revolve our lives around alcohol. A lot of our new GAA stars are embracing the entire keep fit mentality that leaves it unheard of for top teams having players coming back carrying timber after the off season.

However, there is a problem with the unsustainable levels of preparation at club level. It has got to the point where players are putting their entire lives on hold to play at club level. I am not saying preparation doesn’t need to be important but there needs to be a greater life, work, GAA balance.

6Front foot at underage AFTER watching some excellent games in the Ulster Club series I am taking the ‘glass half full’ approach to the state of the game.

While some are boring, there is always an exciting finale and with enough excellent games we should trumpet.

I think the one area we can improve in would be to abandon sweepers at underage. I am not talking in dinosaur mode. Hear me out. At underage, we need to develop three things. The kicking in the game, the freedom of expression and as a result teach underage players how to defend one on one. Sweepers were taken in to stop teams with poor defenders getting hammered. We need to flip that. More one v one would bring back the top defenders.

Then, if tactics are needed at senior level to tailor a plan, let it be the case. Before that, just let the kids play.

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