GAA history will be made on the double on 27 February when the association’s annual congress will be staged remotely for the first time.
The extent of county representation has yet to be decided but a truncated agenda is essential because of the challenges involved. The Ard Stiúrthoir’s report will form part of the agenda but only motions that do not require detailed debate and examination will be addressed.
However one motion that is scheduled for discussion has the potential to have a significant impact on how the games of hurling and football are played in this year’s All-Ireland championship. It was intended to postpone consideration of this motion to a later debate but following the intervention of Tom Hunt (Westmeath ), John Gleeson (Tipperary ) and Ned Quinn (Kilkenny ) it was decided to include the motion on the congress agenda.
The radical motion from the Rules Review Committee is designed to eliminate ‘Aggressive Disruptive Behaviour’ by players to prevent goal scoring opportunities.
The proposed rule change is framed in the form of an Emergency Rule that will only operate in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling and Football Championships of 2021.
In simple terms, the motion proposes that if a team is denied a goal scoring opportunity, as a result of an aggressive infraction committed either inside or outside the large rectangle, a penalty will be awarded to the team affected. This is the really radical part of the proposal as a penalty kick/puck will now be awarded when a goal scoring opportunity has been denied even if the foul was committed outside the large rectangle. The thinking behind the proposal is that the advantage denied to the team is restored by awarding the penalty. A period in the sin bin for the hurler or footballer committing the infraction is also part of the proposed rule change.
History will also be made when Larry McCarthy succeeds John Horan as President of the GAA. Larry, a native of Cork and a man who has given long and dedicated service to the New York GAA, is the first member of an overseas unit to be elected to the highest office in the association. Westmeath GAA members wish Larry the best of luck in what is likely to be a challenging time in office.
With little prospect of activity in the foreseeable future it is interesting to look back on what was happening in the world of Westmeath GAA over the first weekend in February, a decade ago.
It wasn’t all plain sailing as Westmeath’s opening Division 3 NFL match against Louth was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch in Drogheda with Pat Flanagan at the managerial helm in 2011.
The ACL in football was underway and rounds were played in Div. 4, Div. 5 and Div. 6. The last weekend in January was used for unfinished business from 2010 and a number finals were played.
Clonkill defeated Lough Lene Gaels (2-18 to 1-4 ) to win the county Under-21 Hurling title and Tyrrellspass defeated Mullingar Shamrocks 1-8 to 0-8 in the Feis Cup final.
Fr Dalton’s, powered by the accuracy of Colum Mackey who scored 0-8, were too strong for Crookedwood and finished 1-11 to 0-9 ahead in the 2010 Intermediate Cup final.
At this time also the decision was made to play all U12 competitions using the Go-Games model. Paul Greville was the winner of the Westmeath Examiner Sports Star of the Year award, while John Heslin, for his exploits with St Lomans and Castletown Geoghegan, was a popular winner of the young Sports Star of the Year award and Mick Carley was elevated to the Hall of Fame.
County PRO, Pat Reilly, in his Westmeath Notes advised clubs that with an election scheduled, ‘they cannot allow their premises to be used for party political purposes’.