Thursday 8 December 2016

Colm O'Rourke: Opponents of closed season ignore the burning issue

The training ban must not be ditched without a proper back-up plan, says Colm O'Rourke

Published 23/01/2011 | 05:00

L AST week saw the final public act with the funeral of Michaela McAreavey and the families can now grieve in private. The death of such a beautiful, lively young woman has shocked and distressed the whole nation and seldom has there been such an outpouring of sadness and sympathy to both the Hartes and McAreaveys. Their character and dignity shone through, decent people faced with extraordinary loss.

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The plain people spoke in each and every parish in Ireland with visits to the family houses or with prayers and good wishes. For Mickey Harte, who has done immense good work in helping others deal with tragedy in a quiet way, it is an appalling burden to have visited upon him. Hopefully the tears, prayers and support of the whole country, which is absolutely genuine, can be of some comfort to the families during the dark days ahead.

In this context it may appear extremely insensitive to even be bothered with football matters. Nevertheless, the issue of the closed season has begun to dominate discussions and the calls for its removal grow ever louder. As I have pointed out before, I was part of the committee which put motions to Congress on a variety of things relating to player welfare. One of which was to introduce a closed season. A number of other motions which went before Congress failed, such as amalgamating minor and under 21 into an under 19 competition, so in hindsight it probably would have been better to put the whole raft of motions together and let them all go down in flames if that was the considered view of the great and the good which makes up the annual carnival, sorry, meeting.

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