Duffy calls on individual counties to address club fixtures issue

Outgoing director-general receives standing ovation in his final address to congress

Páraic Duffy: “The best fixtures programme for counties can’t be done by Croke Park. We’ve done what we can do and it’s now up to individual counties.”  Photograph:  Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Páraic Duffy: “The best fixtures programme for counties can’t be done by Croke Park. We’ve done what we can do and it’s now up to individual counties.” Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

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In his final address to the GAA’s annual congress, outgoing director general Páraic Duffy called on counties to take the initiative with their players and clubs in order to improve club fixtures.

He was replying to a debate on issues raised in his annual report. Many of the contributions, led by former presidents Nickey Brennan and Christy Cooney, paid tribute to Duffy for the achievements of his more-than-10 years in office.

Duffy picked up on comments by former Wexford manager Liam Griffin, who is an executive member of the Club Players Association and who raised the issue of what he described as the “fixtures crisis”.

“Club is more important than anything else,” said Duffy in response, “and I do think that over the past few congresses we have done a very good job in improving the situation. Certainly the template is better than what we had before so I think I can say that Central Council and congress have made the right decisions. Now the onus is on individual counties.

“Every county is different. There are big counties and small counties, dual counties who are strong and counties struggling in both. The best fixtures programme for counties can’t be done by Croke Park. We’ve done what we can do and it’s now up to individual counties to look and see how they can their programmes better for their own players.”

It has been a long-standing frustration for the DG that his annual reports generate so little debate beyond plaudits and thanks for his effort when he had hoped for more engagement.

“It doesn’t seem to happen that way,” he said.

He would have been pleased with a number of contributions.

Jack Devanney (Down) said that he believed that the discussion document drawn up by Duffy 10 years ago to consider amateur status in the GAA should be revisited, a suggestion that the author was happy to endorse without saying anything further on the subject.

Jimmy Walsh from Kilkenny called on congress to double its efforts to help the volunteers within clubs whose “work is done in their spare time in conjunction with work and family” and added that the demands went “beyond the core work of promoting the games”.

His contribution was also acknowledged.

At the conclusion of his reply, Duffy received a standing ovation from the delegates. GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail, who also leaves office this weekend, made a presentation to the retiring DG.

Saturday sees a low-key agenda of 42 motions and the formal opening of the new presidency of Dublin’s John Horan.

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