Saturday 3 December 2016

Duffy's warning: Act now on player welfare

Published 20/02/2016 | 02:30

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy. Photo: Sportsfile
GAA director-general Páraic Duffy. Photo: Sportsfile

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy has warned that if a plan designed to curb stress and burnout among top young talent, while also boosting club activity is rejected, it will leave the Association "in a very bad place with our players".

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In a stark analysis of a problem that has remained unsolved for a long time, Duffy bluntly tells delegates to next weekend's Congress in Carlow that the time for talking is over.

"Are we going to say to our elite young talents: we know there's a problem with the amount of activity you have, but burn yourself out, we're not listening to you," Duffy said.

"Are we going to say to our club players: the inter-county scene is far more important that you are so you'll have to put up with things the way they are.

"And are we going to say to all of them that we came up with proposals to make things better but threw them in the bin because we didn't really care? If we do, we will have let them down."

Changes to the minor age limit, the U-21 football championship, eradicating replays and finishing the club programme in the calendar year are among the proposals Duffy believes would greatly alleviate the current difficulties.

"Our elite young players are being put under enormous stress by the many demands placed on them, especially in the early part of the year, while our club players are angry and frustrated over a fixtures programme that's far too haphazard.

"We can do something about it next weekend and I hope we avail of the opportunity. We owe it to our players to put this right," he said.

He also wants Congress to reject a Dublin proposal to introduce a rule which would preclude future deals with pay channels such as Sky for championship coverage.

"We shouldn't tie our own hands. If we do, the other channels can offer us as little as they want. It's as straightforward as that. It would make no sense for us whatsoever," he said.

Irish Independent

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