The Irish and their passion for arguing













There's a famous saying about the Irish and our propensity to have a row over the smallest little thing in life, an old story which claims that the first thing to happen in any Irish organization is the split.

I’m sure you’ve heard it in the past when the various sporting bodies we charge with our dreams of glory and success manage to spend more time fighting each other than the opposition.

This week alone we have witnessed more than one outbreak of the great Irish tradition as the FAI fight with their clubs over a Barcelona friendly, and with their supporters over a Manchester United visit, while the GAA fall out with each other over a new handpass rule.

There’s nothing unusual in all of this. FAI chief executive John Delaney is well used to putting out fires at this stage, but he didn’t help himself on this occasion when he fanned the flames of the FAI’s dispute with Limerick FC.

Essentially Delaney and the FAI are adamant that Limerick can’t organize a glamour friendly with Barcelona because it wasn’t set up with the agreement of a mysterious third party already contracted to the FAI.

The fact that Limerick are being denied their big fundraising day at the same time as the FAI are trying to charge their 10 year Vantage Club ticket holders to pay for tickets to see Man United in the first game at the new Aviva Stadium they financed isn’t doing anything for Delaney’s cause either.

FAI stories are now on our radio show Liveline regularly, and an Irish football success story -- the official opening of the Aviva last Friday -- has been completely overshadowed by more in-fighting.

The GAA aren’t much better at the moment after the big domestic kick-off to the 2010 championship season last weekend was dominated by debate about the new handpass rule.

The change in how a player can legally pass the ball with his hand appears to have caught teams and their coaches by surprise.

The referees clamped down on the handpass on Sunday, and across Ulster, Munster and Leinster yellow and red cards were the norm.

As a result, sane men like Mick O’Dwyer of Wicklow, Jack O’Connor of Kerry and Johnny Evans of Tipperary questioned the sanity of the Croke Park powers that be.

Naturally enough the authorities replied to these accusations of treachery and treason and warned that the new rules are here to stay.

So here we are, with the first glimpse of summer apparent all across the land after the worst winter in living memory, and already our top sports bodies are engaged in civil war.

Whoever said the split is the first thing to happen in any organization may well have been right, but they never mentioned the perpetual infighting.

That, more than anything else, is a trademark characteristic of Irish sport, and it’s showing no sign of abating no matter what code you follow.

Maybe we’re a sadistic lot. Maybe we wouldn’t want it any other way, but one thing is for certain -- these stories are going to run and run and run.

Long after the summer has disappeared, which may not be long in Irish terms, they’ll still be hot topics. It’s the way we’ve always been -- and I doubt it’s going to change any day soon.

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