The battle to get the GAA to move into the 20th century at least continues but it looks like they are not for shifting. The GAA discussed a number of issues at a national gathering of the association on last night (Friday). GAA president Sean McCague made sure he aired his influential views on the prospect of EURO2008 games being played at Croke Park. He was speaking at the start of a special congress held over the weekend in Dublin. The idea was to discuss proposed changes to football playing rules made in the GAA's Strategic Review Committee report. However, virtually all of the recommendations in the report were dismissed.
Along with ignoring recommendations from their own committee, the GAA also underlined their blunt message that they have no intention of buckling under pressure from the Irish Government regarding making a decision on Croke Park and EURO2008. We have reported before on the overtures made by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern to the GAA to secure their magnificent stadia for Ireland's joint-bid with Scotland for EURO2008. The government have even held back the funding (around 38m Euros) promised to the GAA to complete the re-development of Croke Park. Maguire responded to this decision by offering a a thinly-veiled rebuke to the Irish Government when he said: "We have never been deflected (from our true aims) by external forces and we will not be deflected now".
11th December is the key date for the EURO2008 bidders to finalise their bid. UEFA will expect to see confirmed venues from the contenders. Scotland should have made their choice from the seven mentioned in the original bidding document. The Irish will have to also make up their minds on which of the three named venues in Ireland are to be confirmed. With one venue (Stadium Ireland) still very much on the drawing board, one (Lansdowne Road) needing significant upgrading, it appears that the Irish are pinning a lot on the GAA letting Croke Park be used. However, McCague said the GAA would not be rushed into an early decision. McCague said: "The formal request from the Government in regard to the use of Croke Park for the Euro 2008 soccer tournament was brought to Central Council where it was discussed. Council re-affirmed the views of the association that this request was a matter that could only be considered at Annual Congress". The problem is that the next GAA Annual Congress doesn't take place until April next year.