independent

Thursday 20 June 2019

Fixtures in a healthy state

Wilson unveils statistics

Brendan Lawrence

Wicklow's fixtures secretary Paul Wilson was in ebullient form at the recent County Board meeting in Aughrim when he unveiled statistics to resoundingly counter claims that there is no flexibility for clubs wishing to change fixture dates of games.

A total of 13 per cent of all football fixtures this year to date have been changed from their original date according to the Hollywood GAA Club man who also revealed that a staggering 96 per cent of all football games have been completed within the county so far this season.

Paul Wilson welcomed the healthy crowd to the county buildings for the meeting and began by stating that he was going to provide some factual information about how the county has performed in terms of fixtures for the year to date.

'It's great to see a decent number here. What we wanted to do was a review of the year to see where we are and to give people feedback on how things have gone so far - factual information,' began Paul Wilson.

'The first thing that we were bound to do was to look at the actual fixtures forum and the outcomes and what we were meant to do. The first thing was to get rid of the cup competitions - we did that. Double round of league in Division 1 and 1A - that's delivered. Communications and responses from the CCC - I hope that nobody has had any problems contacting, I think I'm fairly on the ball. Any phone calls, I ring back as soon as I can, any emails, I get back to as soon as I can, so I consider that taken care of, but I stand to be corrected on it.

'Flexibility in changing games during the year - some people would say that there is no flexibility, the statistics say something very different. The flexibility that isn't there is that you can't go past your scheduled date, that is not allowed. But there is total flexibility before your scheduled date.

'Now, at the beginning of the year I made this very clear to everyone and not many people fully grasped the consequences of that. But that is the case and you will see it from the facts in a few minutes.

'Championship semi-finals and finals to be played at the weekend. At this point in time all championship semi-finals and finals are fixed for weekend dates, which I'm delighted to say. Now, that's provided that all hell doesn't break loose and we get the finals of All-Irelands and whatever else, but at this point in time that is the case.

'Two rounds of hurling - obviously that didn't happen on the league side of things. And Division4 to start earlier - we couldn't start any earlier because we are restricted with light. The earliest we could start was May 18, anything before that we just can't play the games.

'Key facts on the football, and there are some very interesting ones: Games that were scheduled to be played, 45 were scheduled, 44 have been played in Division1, 98 per cent. If you go down the bottom, rather than go through all the different ones, the only one that we've had problems with is Division 5 where the teams are struggling.

'We've had 249 games so far that have been scheduled to be played in football, 239 have played. That's 96 per cent completion rate which is pretty spectacular.

'On the third one in there, on fixtures changed, 31 fixtures have actually been changed, so 13 per cent of the fixtures have been moved because it was within the criteria that was set out. There was no issue. So, people say that there is no flexibility, that hasn't been borne through.

'Eddie (Leonard) has gone out of his way to arrange referees for these games, but I can say that we are walking a tightrope on the referee side of things, lads. There was one day there we were literally; we were short of referees and only a game was called off we were in trouble.

'If we look at the hurling then, the hurling wasn't quite as effective as the football. We had six walk-overs in the hurling. Again, game changes, we had 11 out of 28 games changed, that's nearly 40 percent, 39 per cent were changed so there was no issue there. We had 82 per cent of the total number of games played in the hurling which is way below where it should be. You would expect it to be 95 plus. It's something that's a work in progress and needs to be improved on the hurling side of it,' he added.

An Annacurra GAA Club delegate said that from his club's point of the view the double round of the games in the Division 1 and 1A leagues wasn't a success as there were too many games.

Paul Wilson said that the CCC needed to sit down with clubs and work out what's best for everyone later in the year.

He also hinted at drastic changes to the club scene if a 'B' All-Ireland championship is introduced at national level.

'It could be a completely diffeent scenario next year depending on what comes out of the 'B' championship debate.

Blessington's Michael Sargent highlighted logistical difficulties for teams in Division 4 on a thursday night with Blessington, Avondale, AGB and Carnew in one group which required Blessington to make the long journey to Avondale or Carnew and vice versa.

Paul Wilson said that he had tried to balance out the league to the best of his ability while giving due consideration to journey times and geographical locations but he agreeed that it was an issue and that was not ideal.

Paul Wilson also suggested that there used to be Division 1 league games on a Tuesday night that went off relatively hassle free.

Michael Sargent retorted that a Division 4 team were a very different anilmal to a division 1 team and that he might have 13 Leaving Cert students on the team and none of them might own a car whereas a Division 1 team would possess more drive.

'The only thing I would say on our signs of things is that there was plenty of notice given with the fixtures at the beginning of the year so that there was plenty of chances for things to be planned out as best you can, and I know that Division 4 by its very natue is lastminute.com,' said Paul Wilson.

Mick Hagan said that the CCC intend to call one or perhaps two fixtures meetings with the clubs to discuss how the year has gone so as to improve things for the following year.

'Look, everything hasn't been perfect, but I think that we have moved a step forward and we need to keep moving forward, that's the important thing here. Certainty of fixtures? We've got that. Communication? I woul think that we've got that. They are two big things to have done.

'I think the actual mindset, people didn't realise the consequence of not looking at the fixtures earlier in the year and maybe chan ging fixtures around and booking their days off. I think next year, people will have a much bettter understanding of looking at the fixtures and making those changes early on before they are set in stone.

Another delegate complained that the fixing of games for 4 and 5pm on a Saturday afternoon was problematic for lads who are working.

Paul Wilson said as the evenings legnthened times had been changed to reflect that but he also said that the feedback from clubs was that they didn't want games at 7pm and 8pm on a Saturday evening.

Seamus Kelly from Baltinglass GAA club said that the CCC had to be complimented for their work on the fixtures.

'The CCC have to be complimented on your progress,' he began. 'What has come up on screen there tonight brings a new dimension and you have to be complimented on that,' he added.

The venues for championship games have yet to be announced. Paul Wilson explained that they will be unveiled very soon.

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