Monday 24 October 2016

Ciaran Whelan: Media's silence over Diarmuid Connolly's Croke Park incident smacks of hypocrisy

Ciaran Whelan

Published 22/05/2015 | 13:43

Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly is treated for an injury after an incident with Cork's Jamie O'Sullivan during the National League Final
Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly is treated for an injury after an incident with Cork's Jamie O'Sullivan during the National League Final

It is now four weeks since Dublin lifted the National Football title in Croke Park.

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Forgive me for my parochialism this week but the Dubs are easy targets for the media on a variety of issues.

Whether it is playing in Croke Park or having too much money to spend there is always someone looking to express their opinion.

Discipline is another area that will grab headlines if any player steps out of line.

The Battles of Omagh or Donnycarney or any sendings off will always grab headlines. Sure that's life, comes with the territory of being a Dub. Get on with it we are told!

So what about when the shoe is on the other foot?

With that in mind, I wonder what has come of the Jamie O'Sullivan incident in the league final when he took out Diarmuid Connolly with a dangerous challenge?

I wonder would the incident have gone away if Connolly was the perpetrator?

For some reason I doubt it very much.

Inter-county season still ruling over club player

While the inter-county season swings into full pace in the coming weeks, spare a thought for the poor club player who will play second fiddle to the fortunes of his county for the coming months.

In fairness, the club player does get a small bit of consideration every now in then from GAA hierarchy.

Like in 1999, when the Football Review Committee issued their report and outlined the following: "There is clear evidence that the present senior inter-county fixture structures are having a negative impact on club fixtures in several counties.

"We constantly heard of clubs not having any competitive games for five, eight or even twelve weeks during the season because of the inter-county commitments of a small number of players. This is because many counties set aside club fixtures to facilitate the county team's progress in the championship.

"The effect of this is that a tiny number of inter-county players are depriving a huge number of club players of a REGULAR programme of games."

Yes, I do promise that is from 1999 and not 2015.

For 14 years the club player was put back on the shelve to gather dust before he was resurrected once again as part of the FRC report in 2013.

A survey at that time outlined that 52 per cent said that club fixture-making in their county was either 'poor' or 'very poor' and 64 per cent said that the club season was too long and drawn out.

The club player is now firmly back on the shelve again to gather more dust!

Is there any wonder the modern day club footballer or manager is borne by frustration when absolutely nothing has changed in recent years.

The modern day football year for a senior club player equates to a pre-season followed by a few leagues game between February and April. One or two championship games will be thrown in around April when managers will get back their inter-county players with three or four days to prepare for possibly their most important game of the year.

Come summer, most squads will be depleted through holidays or J1s to the States and as a result, a lot of teams will struggle to get 15 players on the field for a few more league games during the summer months.

Then after a disjointed summer, clubs that are still in the club championship will try and regroup to prepare for the latter stages of the club championship before finishing off their respective league campaigns late in November or December. The top clubs that are out of championship in April will fulfil their fixtures with little desire or effort.

A bit of joined-up thinking is required to save the viability of the club structure and changes to the inter-county season will be required.

The CCC in their respective counties are clearly hamstrung by the time frame of the inter-county season and the pending progress of their inter-county teams.

This means the priorities of getting fixtures completed outweighs the considerations of the club players or managers.

The perfect example is the desire in Dublin to complete two rounds of the championship pre-summer to avoid a fixture back-up later in the year.

Whilst the merits behind these fixtures are fully justified, I would suspect that most of the clubs involved would prefer a broader time-frame later in the year to prepare for big club championship games.

Kilmacud Crokes, Ballyboden, St Jude's and St Brigid's are four teams that would have ambitions of county championship success. They have all been paired together in Round 2 of the championship (Boden v Crokes; Jude's v Brigid's) and for the losers their season will effectively be over.

For these clubs and many other clubs in Round 2, they will also only have one week with a full squad to prepare. While you could argue it is the same for both teams, it is not ideal and is the core reason why there is significant frustration out there at club level.

With the obvious restraints in the existing calendar, it is reasonable to play the first round which is seeded and effectively splits teams into an 'A' and 'B' format. But could Round 2 have been put on hold until later in the year?


While most expect that Dublin will be All-Ireland champions in September, it is never guaranteed. If Dublin exit before the All-Ireland final stage there will be ample time in the calendar to complete the county championship to allow clubs to prepare accordingly.

If Dublin win the All-Ireland, there may be a price to play with a fixture back-log but I think clubs would accept that headache if it arose.

The profile of the Dublin SFC has grown in recent years. One of the biggest crowds ever seen in Parnell Park attended last year's decider between St Oliver Plunkett's/ER and St Vincent's.

Inter-county players from all corners of the country were in attendance for what was a great spectacle of football.

In Dublin we should embrace what we have, work with the clubs and give our club players the best opportunity to compete for county honours.


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