Tuesday 19 November 2019

Fixtures 'log jam' a big priority for new president O Fearghail

Aogan O Fearghail
Aogan O Fearghail
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Newly-appointed GAA President Aogan O Fearghail has made streamlining fixtures a top priority and believes progress can be made to relieve pressure on players and clubs in the near future.

The Cavan native pointed out the GAA's unique situation in relation to its schedule but hopes to make significant strides on the issues in his presidency.

"I don't see why we'd have to wait forever for change to happen," he said.

"I think there are little log jams. I don't think they are major, but there are areas we are looking at and I'm hoping progress can be made.

"It's not a problem, it's a challenge. I have been asking and there are a lot of experts here, but no other sports organisation that I'm aware of in the world has two major field games. And playing it at the levels we do, in other words at the highest inter-county level, colleges, school level and then club.

"So it is a significant challenge to have a streamlined fixture calendar. That's a challenge for us and it's one we're facing."

The Drumgoon clubman confirmed the interprovincial series will remain part of the calendar. The competition has almost gone out of existence on a number of occasions, but O Fearghail confirmed he'll look to breathe new life into the series.

"I have held the view for a long time that it is a worthwhile competition. Central Council have discussed it on three occasions in the last few years in my term on Central Council and they have always strongly supported retention, so I don't favour doing away with the competition.

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"I can't say we're going to wave a magic wand but we will examine it and see how we can improve it. We will retain it.

"I think there is an energy in it and there is a potential in it. In terms of making a proud statement and say we are going to revive it and bring back huge crowds to it, the answer is I don't know that. But we will examine it in the context of many other fixtures that we have."

kicked off

O Fearghail was speaking at the Etihad sponsored GAA World Games which kicked off in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

A total of 28 teams will take part in the competition over two days, including a number of sides made up entirely of non-Irish players who have started their own clubs in various parts of the world.

More than 20pc of GAA clubs are now based outside Ireland and O Fearghail revealed the competition will return to Ireland next year as part of the association's efforts to mark the centenary of the 1916 rebellion.

"I'm not sure if it should be annual or every two years, or every three years. But certainly it would continue. That's something we will discuss, but what we are hoping to happen is I am very keen to bring it to Ireland next year on a number of levels. The main one being next year is 2016, the anniversary of the 1916 rebellion and we are going to play our part in celebrations.

"I don't know where it will go eventually. I do think the umbilical cord for the GAA does always go back to Ireland. I don't see the GAA becoming a world sporting body like some other organisations have become.

"The Irish link will always be there or it would lose a lot of its meaning, but there is no limitations put on the potential of this."

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