GAA Football

Martin O'Neill in Queen's University webinar discussion over 'The Ban'

Martin O'Neill will reflect on the events of 50 years ago

FORMER Celtic and Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill will take part in a special Queen's University GAA webinar discussion this evening on the lifting of the GAA's ban on foreign sports 50 years ago.

Famously, MacRory Cup semi-final opponents St Malachy's and St Mary's were barred from playing at Casement Park by Antrim GAA in February 1971 due to the fact O'Neill was playing for Irish League club Distillery at the time.

The semi-final ended up being played on a practice pitch at Christian Brothers, Omagh while six weeks later the rule was deleted by GAA Congress, which was hosted by Queen's University.

O'Neill will be joined in conversation by Jack Devaney, Queen's GAA Past Members Union chairman.

“You have to try and avoid looking at the past through the lens of the present,” said Devaney, ahead of tonight's discussion which is open to the public.

“You go back to the very beginning: why did the ban come into place? For the first 40 years of the Association there was social and political turmoil and as an organisation they were trying to build and develop themselves…

“It was probably more prevalent in the past than the present, but sometimes you almost define yourself by not just who you are and what you are, but also by who you are not and what you are not.

“It wasn't sports like Equestrian or snooker [the ban affected]; it was ones you mostly associated with the British Empire and that happened to be field sports. The GAA was in competition with these sports. You look back on it and part of it was about survival, but things move on and the Association develops."

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GAA Football