JOHN MULLANE, in typically pug-nacious form, has launched a Déise double-whammy against the GAA authorities over the scheduling and ticket-pricing of championship matches.
The Waterford hurler has slammed the "absolutely ridiculous" decision to stage their Munster SHC semi-final against Clare on the June Bank Holiday Monday.
Mullane is equally furious over the fact that eight or nine of the Waterford senior panel must focus on a Munster U21 clash with Cork next Wednesday -- just five days before that SHC collision with Clare.
The two-time All Star has also castigated officialdom for charging "absolutely crazy" admission prices in the height of a recession. He appears on less solid ground here, however, given that Christy Cooney promised last February that the GAA would not be hiking ticket prices throughout his presidency, which has almost two years left to run.
p On the subject of Bank Holiday games, Mullane claimed: "It's a crazy situation. The GAA are thinking of TV revenue but they're not thinking of the players. It's bad enough waiting around until Sunday but to wait around an extra day ... you might have to take the Tuesday off because you are recovering from the game."
p On the Munster U21 schedule, which sees Waterford travelling to Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Wednesday, he blasted: "Preparation-wise for us it's a total nightmare. We've eight or nine off the U21 panel and, for numbers alone, we'll have them one night and then we don't have them the next night. To try and play training matches, it's just a total disaster."
p Finally, on ticket pricing, he slammed the €20 tariff to attend the Waterford/Clare football clash last weekend -- and the stand ticket price of €30 for the same counties' hurling collision on Monday week.
"The tickets are dearer now in the middle of a recession than they were four or five years ago, when we were in the height of a Celtic Tiger," he maintained. "I mean it's crazy. How are they trying to entice people to go out and support teams?"
He was dismissive of the argument that GAA prices compare favourably with those for Irish rugby and soccer internationals, saying: "They are professional sports. The GAA, we're an amateur sport ... why don't they have amateur prices? At the end of the day, the GAA is all about being family- orientated. Let's try and help families in the middle of a recession."
According to Mullane, you can see the effect at the turnstiles, with less than 5,000 paying in to watch Kerry's SFC opener against Tipperary.
"You couldn't blame families and supporters for not coming out when you have it on the TV and charging them prices. It's shameful," he concluded.
Despite all these gripes, the shaven-headed veteran is totally focused on Monday week -- even though, in his eyes, "the GAA was always Sunday games and, in my opinion, they should stick to that".