The 2023 wish list – four main issues the GAA need to consider next year

By Michael McMullan

Proper hurling review

FOOTBALL is more popular than hurling simply because there are more people playing it. More clubs mean more fans and sets of eyes watching games on any given weekend.

I know people who don’t even entertain it as a GAA sport and some see it as a distraction. This is totally wrong and the GAA need to make a proper effort to move it up the food chain.

There is no Ulster Hurling Championship for counties anymore with the lower tier championships like the Joe McDonagh and Christy Ring Cups getting less than token media coverage.

In some cases county boards don’t even promote the game and clubs appear to have given up asking them.

I would love it if Santa could get a committee together in Croke Park to visit all – yes all – the counties outside the Liam McCarthy Cup and ask serious questions of the promotion of hurling and if there is anything that can be done to give a helping hand up the ladder.

Underage grades

THERE needs to be a proper task force put in place to make a final decision on the u-17 and u-20 versus u-18 and u-21 age grouping for underage sport. It needs to be top heavy with people on the ground with underage – across all codes – in clubs and counties. They are people who know.

At a glance, I can see what they are trying to do by decoupling adult and the final year of underage club to ensure a smoother fixture programme. But, for me, it’s not a good enough reason. Without a more active u-19 and u-20 scene in place, there is too big of a gap from underage to adult. Going back to the even numbers has more benefits, but it all needs a proper look. From chatting to someone from Glen, they feel that u-17 works well alongside u-19 and thirds teams. But it needs a full on study across the board with the current Ulster champions perhaps involved in the debate to state their side of the argument.

One umbrella

THE situation with Steelstown and their Ulster Ladies Championship needs to be the last straw in the battle between the three separate codes – GAA, LGFA and the Camogie Association.

Parking the two sides to the story that followed between Steelstown the Ulster LGFA, it all began because of not having a second pitch on standby for the Derry champions’ postponed game with Ballyshannon in a very tight fixture schedule that involved the Ulster champions travelling across the water.

Deeper than that, it stems from the LGFA having to pick the leftovers, in terms of venues, once the men have fixtures arranged.

There needs to be one, yes one, fixtures board to organise all fixtures– yes all of them – in all four codes. Make it a paid position and one held to account. No weekend of fixtures should be rolled out without having three or four backup pitches. The schedule is way too tight for anything to be left to chance.

And it doesn’t matter who owns – or who claims to – all the pitches. All four codes of the GAA family are built from the same communities, so everyone should get a fair slice.


THE biggest elephant in the room of all needs pushed out the door, never to return. Poor discipline is in the minority in the grand scheme of things. But when it lifts its head, it should be pushed back down again.

Referees getting assaulted, players getting verbally abused and vitriol coming from the terraces, none of it should ever be accepted.

It doesn’t matter how many lotto tickets a person sells or how much effort their family before them put into the club, if they step out of line they should be punished. And if clubs don’t enforce it, then close their gates until they do or a club community votes out the committee to elect a new one.

The GAA is too important in Irish society to allow the antics of a few to tarnish the reputation of so many.

Unfortunately, much of it comes down to a rule book with more loop holes than disciplinary committees can take into account and an ‘appeal everything’ culture.

This point also ties in with how referees should be treated. As Derry coach Ciaran Meenagh pointed out, in an interview with Gaelic Life, referees need as much training as possible to help them develop and in turn the rest of the GAA family must treat them with respect. He stressed it is a two-way street and he’s 100 per cent right. From someone involved at a high level, it was a very sensible stance and one needing consideration.

It’s a shorter GList than usual, but it’s four of the key areas that need to be given a proper look at to help the overall health of the greater Gaelic Games family.


I’d like to wish all our readers and advertisers a very enjoyable festive period. It’s always a great time to get away from the pitch and a spend time with those who matter most. So toast the successes of 2022 and bank the improvements needed and worry about them in January.

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