'I do find it a little strange' - Paraic Duffy 'surprised' at CPA statement on championship reform
GAA director-general Paraic Duffy has said he is "surprised" at a statement released by the Club Players Association outlining why they won't be supporting Central Council's proposals to reform the All-Ireland football championship and condense the championship season by three weeks.
That motion goes before Congress next month but the CPA have outlined why they won't be endorsing it and have asked Duffy to "park" it until further consultation.
But Duffy, speaking at the launch of his annual report to Congress in Croke Park this morning, has said the motion won't be withdrawn and has challenged a number of points made by the CPA who suggested the reforms would be detrimental to hurling and don't take into consideration the welfare and holidays of club players.
He also pointed to contradictions in what they said.
"The first point I want to make is these are not my proposals. I brought a document to Coiste Bainisti (Management), which decided to make this into a report and recommend them to Central Council. I don't want to personalise it.
"I'm a little bit surprised by some of the things in it (CPA statement). They say that if these proposals are passed, there'll be no change until 2019 at the earliest. 'By then it could be too late. This needs (to be) sorted now.'
"If you want to sort it now, why would you park it? The two things appear a little bit contradictory. Now means this year's Congress."
Duffy said he was not aware of the statement until Monday evening and had got no prior notice of its content.
He pointed out that he had met with the CPA, representing the GAA's Management, on three occasions.
He questioned their contention that Central Council proposals don't "fully take on board the need for an agreed fixtures programme for club players, or take account of legitimate concerns raised including club player welfare and well being, holidays and closed season."
"That's exactly what they take account of. You can absolutely argue, as is their right, that they don't go far enough but I don't think it's valid to say that the proposal doesn't take on board things like players holidays, closed season etc. It does take account of those."
He offers a firm rebuttal of the suggestion that the plans are detrimental to hurling.
"I, for the life of me, cannot see how these proposals are detrimental to hurling. The only point that I think they may be referring to is, and I have addressed this in the document, was a concern that was expressed about bringing forward the hurling championship would leave too long of a gap between games.
"The appendices in the document were simply to show one way, my thoughts on how it might be done. But I made it absolutely clear that it was no more than that. These aren't fixed dates," he said.
"I don't understand that criticism to say that this is detrimental to hurling. In fact, I would argue very strongly that it's a positive for hurling because of all games, if the All-Ireland championships finish earlier, the club championships would be played off on good pitches.
"We've had a situation where provincial club finals are being played in late November when pitches are heavy which is not conducive to good hurling."
Duffy questioned whether another fixtures 'think-tank', as suggested by the CPA in their statement, would throw up anything new and he welcomed the players' body coming up with solutions of their own.
"In fairness to the CPA, I think we need to give them time to come up with their proposals," he said.
"The only proposal that they've put into the public domain so far is that they want the All-Ireland finals played by the first weekend of August. They have said they'll come forward with their own suggestions in time. I look forward to that and I think it's important that they do that.
"If they are better proposals out there, we want to hear them. But as of now, I do find it (press release) a little strange."