IT may not have been known, or even realised by those high ranking officials of the GAA’s Central Council Committee who met at headquarters on Saturday last, that not only had they taken a far reaching decision on a proposal on the opening of various GAA grounds for the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2023, or if that fails 2027, but they may also have thrown Kildare, and specifically St Conleth’s Park, a lifeline.
The primary function of Saturday’s gathering of the great and good of course was to put the clampers on the so called payments to inter county managers, to all those behind the scene people such as physios, doctors, tacticians, analysts, number crunchers, head shrinks, high performance coaches, specialists coaches, the lot.
It is the culmination of a debate initiated by former President and former high ranking Fás official, Christy Cooney, to ‘monitor’ spending on the preparation of county teams.
From what we have seen to date everything from an after training banana to the use (or over use) of toilet rolls, is now to be accounted for by the chairman, secretary, treasurer and central council delegate of each and every county.
And if they, individually or collectively, fail to fulfil the necessary regulations the big stick will be introduced and no funds will be forthcoming from the pot of gold that lies in waiting in Croker.
There will even be spot checks, unannounced spot checks at that, to see everything is being carried out to the letter of the Croke Park law.
Not sure if the bold Christy has got the gig of visiting the various counties (unannounced) to ensure that all rules and regulations are in place and being adhered to, but who ever the gent (or lady) is I’m sure he or she will be getting more than the 50 cent a mile that players, managers and all other personnel involved in the preparation of county teams are entitled to at present.
Interesting times ahead, interesting times.
But back to that other momentous decision to seek permission for a number of county grounds to be made available for the hosting of the Rugby World Cup come 2023/2027.
This move could have real positive implications for Kildare GAA and an opportunity to at last turn St Conleth’s Park into a modern day stadium.
Yes, of course, regardless of what improvements are made the stadium would never be capable of hosting a major World Cup game but that is no reason to pass by on this golden opportunity.
You must remember that when those big rugby nations compete in World Cups they leave nothing for granted. They will be in need of warm-up games and this is where opportunities arise.
Imagine the All Blacks taking on a Newbridge-Cill Dara selection and/or the Springboks lining out against the boys from Forenaughts or Barnhall.
We could host some of the lesser nations if need be. For instance Fiji could try their luck against an Athy-Edenderry-North Kildare combination.
The opportunities are immense.
There will be many changes come then but some things will undoubtedly stay the same. Kieran McGeeney could be by then in his 16th season with Kildare, still seeking an All Ireland title.
Glenn Ryan, according to some well placed journalists, will be in pole position to be Kildare’s next manager.
Marty McEvoy will be the President of the GAA.
Pat Mangan will still be appealing to County Board delegates to buy the last of the Club Kildare annual fundraising tickets for a two week holiday to the Congo. Kildare hurlers will still be looking for equal treatment with their footballing counterparts. And Martin Whyte will be counting the toilet rolls at training to ensure the boys had not gone over their Cork Park quota.
It’s a real opportunity is this Rugby World Cup. An opportunity that we can’t afford to waste. At last. A state-of-the-art St Conleth’s Park.
And all thanks to our rugby friends.
Ironic or what!