Yes, I am well aware that this time of year in this business is commonly known as the Silly Season because all classes of strange stories have been deployed down the decades to fill otherwise empty pages. Yes, I know that well.

However, the pair of predictions which I am about to unleash now are both considered and serious, are disconnected from the Silly Season entirely, and in due time ye will remember that they were first published here in this space.

The first prediction is that the Gaelic Athletic Association, the powerful cultural, social and sporting force both in Ireland and in the diaspora, is doomed inside the next decade unless its leaders take extremely drastic action urgently.

In the coming days, when the two All-Ireland finals in hurling and football will be staged in Croke Park it is still the truth that tickets for either will be as valuable as gold dust. It has always been that way down all the years when the GAA had a club in every parish, when loyalties to the county football and hurling teams burned white hot, when the cups named after Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy were sacred chalices of the Irish spirit.

Those days are ebbing away with every week that passes now. In 20 years time the problem for the GAA bosses will be getting willing bums turned out to fill all the empty stands in stadia throughout the island.

Why will that happen? It will happen because as the mighty Kerry footballer turned pundit Pat Spillane memorably said recently, the GAA has permitted the evolution of a system of what Spillane calls "Puke Football"!

The most popular and widespread of the two Gaelic codes, the football game, has been robbed of its most majestic and thrilling elements, and what we are left with instead is a crude class of contact basketball played by super fit, huge athletes who use their hands (for series of passes) far more often than they use their football boots.

Spillane is 100 accurate. It is dreadfully boring stuff to watch, and falling attendances are beginning to hallmark that reality already.

The soaring midfield fielding which once delighted the eye is now obsolete in a game which features swarm defenses and attacks, minimum individuality by players coached into rigid systems, a generally boring and uninspiring code template and, because of that, a generally predictable outcome before the game even begins.

I can say now, for example, that Dublin will again win Sam Maguire. They have a huge squad of huge men to pick from, they are highly coached in this new Puke Football style and, as always, Croke Park is their home ground.

I said that the beautiful fielding element of Gaelic football is gone. This, sadly, is because any midfielder who fetches a ball out of the sky like the great stars of the past, men like Mick O'Connell and Brian Mullins, are creating a negative for their team because they are surrounded by the time their feet touch the ground again, and usually the momentum for their side is less than that achieved by a broken ball.

Also, the skill of shooting long-range points has virtually disappeared. In Puke Football one does not shoot until one can virtually see the whites of the goalie's eyes. And that is only for a point rather than a goal!

Behind the scenes already, it is a fact that many young players are turning their backs on the chance to play for their county. This is because the intensive regime at every level (for an amateur unpaid sport!) is now so demanding and intensive that they virtually have to surrender their entire young lives to the GAA.

A growing percentage of the best players in the country are opting out of that situation, and team managers will confess this is the case. It is a reality of the Puke Football that, unless things change, this could lead to Croke Park's huge stands being pockmarked with empty spaces on even the biggest occasions in the near future.

On the hurling front, surely it is the reality that the GAA possesses the world's most exciting small-ball contact sporting code, a game in which the skills of the amateur stars involved are awe-inspiring.

Yet the association's leaders have shamefully and utterly failed to extend its reach outside the traditional hurling heartlands of Leinster and Munster, never mind to the wider sporting world. The existing situation in which only two or three counties annually have a chance of winning the All-Ireland final is tragic.

Also tragically perennial are the merciless trouncing so handed out to the couple of Ulster counties that struggle to keep hurling alive up North.

Finally, and briefly to my second prediction, again laterally attached to both sport and politics. The minister of sport in our new strange government that is on holidays currently is Shane Ross of a group called the Independent Alliance. The former stockbroker is a journalist and author as well as a politician. He was once a member of Fine Gael, the party which he now helps to keep in power.

I can say here and now that Ross will feature at the very heart of the issue which will topple the government from office next year. I do not yet know what that issue will be, but I would bet that it will be some involved and complex matter, probably involving some point of principle.

The minister for sport, as always, will be totally correct in his stance. His case will be very competently articulated and argued.

It will, however, quickly create the division which will topple the government and create another general election which none of us want or need.

Remember you read this here first next time you begin to scoff at stories you encounter during the Silly Season.

The GAA All-Ireland finals: Remember you read this here first next time you begin to scoff at stories you encounter during the Silly Season.Caty Bartholomew