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GAA ready to split seasons

Intercounty followed by club model


ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE: GAA president John Horan

ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE: GAA president John Horan

ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE: GAA president John Horan

The prospect of a split GAA season has moved closer with GAA president John Horan revealing the extent of his backing for a new fixtures reckoning on the back of the Covid-19 crisis.

Horan has advocated a further compression of the inter-county season to conclude it in July, possibly early August, with the elimination of the April club window which, he feels, has not worked as well as it could have.

The fixtures calendar review task force are convening again this week and the president has asked them to examine the mechanics of a split season which would front-load all inter-county activity in the first half of the year, allowing clubs to complete their programmes in the second half with their inter-county players.

"It's to get a clean cut and the cleanest cut you will get is to put county first and finish the year with club," he said.

Last week the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) advocated a July conclusion to an inter-county season and it has been on Horan's mind since a difficult virtual meeting with county chairs in early July when the challenges they faced between inter-county training and club fixtures was made apparent.

"Covid has brought a lot of changes in society in terms of how you work and how you function and from my conversation with numerous county chairs, and I have talked to quite a few of them and hopped this ball with them, they have all been quite positive to examining it on the basis that it could take a lot of conflict and stress out of their role and that of players."

Horan feels that because of the uncertainty that the pandemic has thrown up, any potential change may not be implemented until 2022.

"Covid has brought us to rethink it but also gives us the uncertainty about the pathway ahead to say that we're going to drive on and try to implement something new in 2021 would be probably biting off more than we can chew on the whole thing."

Horan has also said the Association is cognisant of the financial difficulties counties face to fund inter-county activity if it goes ahead.

"The financial question is a factor because boards are not generating revenue and numbers (allowed attendances) don't seem to be rising," he said. "We are not going to walk blindly into an inter-county championship that would cause large expenditure without working out the whole viability of everything involved. That's on the table now, to examine the whole finances of running the championship.

"Good governance would have it that you shouldn't embark on it if you don't have the money to do it." Central Council delegates heard at a meeting last Thursday evening that the overall picture regarding the championship should be clearer early next month.