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In The Irish News - May 21 1998: Two thirds of GAA Congress needed to scrap Rule 21

The Irish News Archive

CROKE Park yesterday confirmed that 66 per cent of delegates’ votes will be required to abolish Rule 21 at the GAA’s Special Congress on May 30.

Confusion over the figure needed to remove the controversial GAA regulation came after journalists were initially told by Croke Park officials at last month’s annual congress that a simple majority (51 per cent) would be enough.

However, a Croke Park spokesperson said yesterday that the normal two-thirds majority needed to change any GAA rule will be in effect at the Burlington Hotel on Saturday week.

This confirmation only serves to increase doubts as to whether Joe McDonagh’s bold bid to remove Rule 21 will be able to ride over very clear Ulster opposition.

Over 40 groupings, including foreign GAA affiliates, higher education and colleges bodies will be represented at the Special Congress.

A block vote from all Ulster against the motion would mean that virtually all the other counties and bodies at the Burlington Hotel gathering would have to back McDonagh’s move for it to succeed.

Several media commentators’ initial confidence that the broad mass of the GAA wouldn’t go against their president was also founded on the belief that a simply majority would be enough to delete the regulation banning British security forces from membership of the sporting organisation.

Supporters of Joe McDonagh point out that the policing issue is a substantial part of the Good Friday Agreement which the two main nationalist parties are calling on their members to support.

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WAYNE McCullough stayed on course for a world title shot, but only after struggling to a split points decision over veteran Juan Polo Perez in Corpus Christie, Texas.

McCullough, the WBC’s number one challenger, is chasing a shot at Mexico’s super-bantamweight champion Erik Morales later in the year, but will have to improve after his 10-round encounter with the Colombian.

Perez, stopped in two rounds by WBO featherweight champion Prince Naseem Hamed in 1995, shocked the Pocket Rocket with his early assaults and the judges’ scoring could hardly have been closer with two voting for McCullough, 95- 94, and one for the Colombian, 95-94. Former world super flyweight champion Perez was expected to offer little threat to McCullough, but the former bantamweight title holder finished with a cut at the top of his head after the gruelling contest.

Perez edged the opening rounds with his movement and solid jab frustrating the Las Vagas-based Belfast man.

But McCullough gradually found the target by the fifth round.

They provided some exciting exchanges in the second half of the non-title bout, with Perez countering the persistent volley of blows from McCullough.

Having been warned for low blows, 27-year-old McCullough was deduced a point in the ninth which placed the contest on a knife edge. But McCullough responded in the 10th with some furious assaults and his work-rate may well have given him the edge.

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Ulster senior welterweight champion Willie Cowan is out of Friday night’s Commonwealth Games bill at the Quality Hotel in Carrickfergus after a fall.

Cowan was due to face Holy Trinity’s Michael Blaney but Trinity coach Michael Hawkins said last night: “We got a phone call from the Monkstown club secretary letting us know that Willie had fallen off a scaffold today and was out of the fight.”

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