Wednesday 22 November 2017

FRC report not radical enough to remove 'sacred cows' -- Farrell

Dessie Farrell
Dessie Farrell

Gaelic games Donnchadh Boyle

GAELIC Players Association (GPA) chief Dessie Farrell welcomed the Football Review Committee's (FRC) second report but believes the document is "not radical enough".

While emphasising he was expressing a personal view, Farrell said that although the report, which proposes a greater number of club and county games being played over the summer, can act as a catalyst for change, it doesn't go far enough.

"There are so many different masters that it is always going to be a complicated issue," Farrell said, as the GAA look to raise awareness of the mandatory use of mouth guards, which comes into force on January 1.

"If you were to ask me, and this is my own personal opinion, it is probably not radical enough in terms of the provincial competitions still remaining part of the All-Ireland series.

"It is complex, trying to revamp competition structures to make them more interesting and exciting but there are a lot of sacred cows within the GAA.

"Overall, one of the big issues, and I am talking about the GAA family in its entirety, is that we seem to temper any blue-sky thinking with a sense of, 'that will never get through Congress,' or, 'that might fail at that particular hurdle'.

"And I think that has an influence on our bigger thinking, which is unfortunate but is the reality."

The GPA has canvassed its members regarding championship structures with mixed results. Among the playing body, there is a desire for a Champions League-style format, while others want to see the provincial series retained in some form as it represented a more realistic chance of success.

"We've had difficulty in terms of trying to make sense of that, with our members. A lot of players want a change of format but yet they don't want to do away with the provincial competition because they fear that's as far as they can possibly go, given the county they're playing with and the level they're operating at.

"So in terms of goals and objectives for players, the provincial one is more reachable than probably an All-Ireland, so you have to be mindful of that outlook."

The former Dublin attacker also points out that with players alternating between county and club duty more often under the proposals, a greater concentration of games would lead to more injuries and could require larger panels. "In terms of injury there is a greater risk playing (more) matches," he said.

"So are we going to accommodate more players on the county panel to facilitate that? And if we do that, we're moving from the 24 or 30 training panel into 36, 38, 40 players.

"Overall, my sense is that it is a very good document and that it's a catalyst for further exploration and investigation -- and I think we need to move it on and ask some of the hard questions here.

"Do we really want change to the championship? And if we do, what sacred cows have to be removed from the equation? So we have to start putting the gun to our heads a little bit."

Irish Independent

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