Does the GAA club fixture schedule demand closer attention or amending?

Four leading club players were asked to air their view on the issue

Brendan Maher: “We have matches in April, and then you literally don’t know when you’re going to play again.”  Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Brendan Maher: “We have matches in April, and then you literally don’t know when you’re going to play again.” Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

 

Accidental or otherwise, the Club Players Association (CPA) announcing its withdrawal from the GAA’s fixtures calendar review task force coinciding with an AIB provincial finals media event made for timely copy. 

After the CPA described that task force as a cynical “Trojan horse”, assembled merely to ratify the “status quo” in the football championship, the four leading club players in attendance at the AIB event were asked to air their view on the issue – and clearly something isn’t working. 

In its response the GAA said it was “surprised and disappointed” at the CPA decision, “particularly at such an advanced stage, and given that the work of the task force is nearing its completion”.

The task force work continues and will be completed later this month, where any proposals brought forward will be considered and decisions taken by the “broader association on the appropriate next steps”. 

Does the GAA club fixture schedule demand closer attention or amending?

Borris-Ileigh and Tipperary hurler Brendan Maher: “Yes, no more so than in Tipperary with the amount of games we have to get through and the amount of games that we have. I’ve said it before that there may be a case for condensing it [the intercounty calendar] more. We have matches in April, and then you literally don’t know when you’re going to play again. That’s an awful way to be in. You end up losing guys, they go off travelling, and it’s not good for the club, and it’s bad for morale around the place with small numbers training. It really needs structure and clarity. We need to start thinking together rather than fighting each other.”

Ballygunner and former Waterford hurler Shane O’Sullivan: “Definitely something needs to happen because the club is the cornerstone of the organisation, and it’s where you spread out participation and people develop and grow. If you don’t look after that we’re going to be under serious pressure because we will lose players in terms of participation.

Shane O’Sullivan: “Something needs to happen because the club is the cornerstone of the organisation.” Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Shane O’Sullivan: “Something needs to happen because the club is the cornerstone of the organisation.” Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

I think it’s more that the club players want a dedicated fixture list where they know when they’re playing their matches. I think that is the basic component of it. Club players would love going to county matches and supporting the team and their friends would be playing as well, so I think there’s a divide: it’s just they want to know when they’re playing their championship matches.” 

Corofin and former Galway footballer Kieran Fitzgerald: “I think it has to be separated however they do it. I think there has to be a club season and an intercounty season. I think that’s the best way to do it. That would be it. The way it is at the minute, April for clubs, then 12 weeks in the summertime you are idle, playing 7s football, the hard slog again in September. There has to be some separation with intercounty, whether it’s January to July or July onwards for the club. I don’t think it’s working for a lot of teams. Height of the summer and you are twiddling your thumbs.”

Kieran Fitzgerald: “I think there has to be a club season and an intercounty season.” Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Kieran Fitzgerald: “I think there has to be a club season and an intercounty season.” Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Padraig Pearses and Roscommon footballer Niall Daly: “In Roscommon it was voted in this year that the first round of club fixtures wasn’t until the 17th and 18th of August, which is ridiculous. But it’s hard to keep both sides happy. It’s not an easy situation, and I suppose with the way the GAA is some teams are knocked out in June, others are knocked out in September. It’s hard to formulate a plan that will suit everyone. What was going on a few years ago where they’d set a date and a team would get knocked out earlier than anticipated, and then you may have had a holiday booked, that’s not right like, so set the dates and go with them dates, but set them in a way that is realistic to your county’s ambitions.”

Niall Daly: “It’s hard to formulate a plan that will suit everyone.” Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Niall Daly: “It’s hard to formulate a plan that will suit everyone.” Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
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