Friday 28 July 2017

Paraic Duffy plans to tackle player welfare issues in major policy overhaul

GAA chief Páraic Duffy
GAA chief Páraic Duffy
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The GAA will tackle player welfare concerns once and for all in a major initiative to be announced next month.

The problems facing club players and the dilemma over inter-county structures will also be addressed.

Compiled by the Association's director general Páraic Duffy, it's the latest attempt to tackle issues which have been of concern for many years.

They re-surfaced again this week when, less than 24 hours after Kilkenny's latest All-Ireland hurling win, Brian Cody said that the "mix with club and county is not as it needs to be" and that it wasn't good enough to leave things are they were.

"The game is about club, club, club and it has to be. The mix is wrong," said Cody.

Duffy's blueprint will cater for a wide range of long-standing concerns and, if accepted by Central Council, will be put before Congress next February.

"I promised at Congress this year that I would bring forward proposals and I'll be doing that next month. I'm certainly not saying they will solve all the problems but they will be my genuine assessment of what needs to be done," said Duffy.

Burnout

They will be based, in part at least, on the findings of five major reports in seven years, starting with a report in 2008 by a Task Force on player burnout, chaired by Dr Pat O'Neill.

However, despite the stark findings by the group, who made several corrective recommendations, burnout remains as serious a problem today. The lack of a consistent fixture schedule for clubs also continues to be a serious irritant for players.

"We have made some progress, yet the reality remains that club players are getting a raw deal and that we have serious player-welfare issues among elite players in the 17-22 age group," noted Duffy in his annual report.

He favours completing the All-Ireland club competitions in the one calendar year, but the proposal has met with mixed reaction.

Irish Independent

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