'Club players will be lost unless we act'
The GAA will continue to lose club players if the current fixtures imbalance continues.
That is the warning from director-general Páraic Duffy in a discussion paper that condenses the detail of eight previous fixtures and burnout-themed reports going back to 2004.
Duffy has stressed that the time for talking about fixtures chaos is over and that action needs to be taken if the GAA is to be true to "the values we profess and seek to embody."
An 11-point plan seeks to rebalance more in favour of the club player by essentially clearing more ground in August, September and October for counties to complete their club championship programmes.
"We should be fully aware that the GAA will continue to lose club players who are not offered a regular, planned and coherent set of competitive matches.
"We must therefore take decisive action," states Duffy. "Ducking the difficult choices that these issues pose for the Association simply by saying 'no' to these proposals is neither a responsible nor a credible stance."
Among the proposals in the plan are the abolition of the All-Ireland U-21 football championship, a move which was on the table eight years ago but lacked support at the time. Plans to switch minor at inter-county level from U-18 to U-17 and the bringing forward of the dates of the All-Ireland hurling and football finals by two weeks are the main proposals which the paper endorses to buy more time for club fixtures.
The completion of the All-Ireland club championship in December is also recommended but this has faced opposition already from all six Munster counties who are concerned over the impact on dual counties.
Duffy said any restructuring of the senior football championship should not "under any circumstance make it more difficult to play club games."
see pages 62-63