GAA presidential candidate Q&A: Aogán O Fearghail
Aogán O Fearghail
Club: Drumgoon, Eire Og
Occupation: Principal, Dernakesh National School, Co Cavan
Main GAA Posts: Former Ulster Council chairman
1. What’s the first action you would take to improve the lot of club players who are deeply frustrated by the fixtures programme?
I would establish a small work group to devise a template and bring clarity to our fixtures schedule. We need our full games programme clearly set out for all competitions. Provincial councils will need to exercise their authority, which they have under rule, to ensure a sufficient games programme is laid out for club players throughout the summer and insist the schedules as published and agreed are adhered to.
2. Would you favour increasing, reducing or retaining the inter-county schedule as it is?
I favour retaining the number of games on the inter-county schedule, but I would also favour examining the current calendar. We play a large number of games and competitions in the early part of the year, provincial tournaments, university competitions, Allianz Leagues, inter-provincial and more. As part of a fixtures review, I would examine the layout and timing of our games programme, but would not decrease the number of games.
3. Do you support the Football Review Committee proposal to re-locate one Ulster and three Leinster first-round losers in the Connacht and Munster championships in order to have eight counties in each of the four provinces?
If it’s absolutely essential to have four eights, this is certainly a novel way of achieving it. However, I believe that the most important issue in a championship is for it to be competitive. That’s why the Munster hurling and Ulster football championships are so good – they are very competitive. Four eights might look good mathematically for fixturemakers, but I am not convinced that relocating first-round losers would increase the competitiveness. But I favour discussion.
4. Do you agree or disagree with Eddie Keher’s view that hurling would be better off without yellow or red cards?
ddie argued that he does not want to see change in hurling with the addition of black cards and also proposed major change by arguing for abolition of all cards. No, I would not agree with Eddie on that. I would keep yellow and red cards in hurling. The key point, however, is this debate and discussion are good.
5. Do you support the continuation of the International Rules Series or should it be scrapped after this year’s tour to Australia?
I think the International Rules Series may well have run its course for now and may have to be parked for a while, not scrapped. A lot will depend on the 2014 series in Australia and their attitude to it. I would strongly support promoting hurling and football internationally. I would also favour revamping the inter-provincial competitions and for them to become a significant outlet for our top players.
6. Do you believe that illegal payments to county and club managers remain a sufficiently serious issue to require further investigation and action?
We know the issues, we know the rules and we recently introduced regulations which I agree with. I believe we need to monitor all such issues, but we don't need another major investigation. However, we do need to ensure rules are implemented. It’s not a significant issue at county level, but is for some clubs. We need to keep moving quickly towards appointing qualified coaches to our clubs and counties and, where possible, using club members as managers. We must remain an association of volunteers.
7. The GAA is supporting the IRFU bid to host the World Rugby Cup in Ireland by making grounds available. Would you support similar cooperation with the FAI in the event of it bidding to host major soccer championships in Ireland?
It's hypothetical at the moment as I’m not aware of any such request. The GAA have shown leadership and have made arrangements for such issues in the past and I’m quite sure similar arrangements could be made in the future, were the issue to arise.
8. Given the disparity in resources, sponsorship opportunities, etc around the country, should the GAA attempt to level the playing field financially for county teams?
Yes. We need to always act strategically in the GAA and need to make our decisions based on evidence and data. Where it’s clear that a county can develop to a higher level, but do not have access to the resources to do it, then yes we should assist. The distribution of our finances needs a review and we need to focus on how we can help so called
9. Do you favour playing senior provincial and/or All-Ireland championship games on Friday evenings?
I favour being open to all good ideas that work and bring development and improvement. I favour change when it’s required to bring advancement. Certainly, Saturday evening championship games are popular and work, so why not on Fridays?
10. If elected, will you be a full-time president and, if so, how much will your salary ‘secondment’ cost the GAA for the three years?
The President is the volunteer leader of the GAA, who derives his authority from Congress. It is a full-time commitment. Recognising that commitment, Presidents seek leave of absence from their work duties and the GAA compensates the loss of salary. If my Board of Management approved, I would seek such leave. As a National School Principal, I currently earn about €70k per year.