Thursday 22 March 2018

GAA unveil plan to sort out club fixture problems

McGill: GAA planning to initiate a comprehensive audit of club fixtures. Photo: Sportsfile
McGill: GAA planning to initiate a comprehensive audit of club fixtures. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The GAA is undertaking a major audit of club fixtures all over the country with a view to devising programmes that will help counties to streamline their schedules.

It arises from an initiative launched at Congress last year and is not linked to the Club Players' Association (CPA), which emerged last month under a 'Fix the Fixtures' slogan.

The GAA plan is to devise best practice guidelines and measure how counties are faring under a variety of headings.

Fixtures analysts are being trained in each county in order to get a uniform approach to tackling problems which have increased significantly in recent years.

It's being done under the auspices of the Central Fixtures' Planning Committee, chaired by Eamonn O'Sullivan (Kerry). It is likely to engage with the CPA in pursuit of solutions to what has become one the most contentious issues in the GAA.

Feargal McGill, head of games, said that it was only when best practice was established that counties could accurately measure how they were doing and examine ways of improving.

"It's all about getting research and analysis of how counties are running their games. Sometimes you might get the impression that it's all in chaos but it's not," he said.

"There are some very good games programmes in place in various counties. There are gaps and frustrations too but when we get a clear picture of the overall scene, it can be addressed using best practice principles.

"What suits one county doesn't necessarily suit another county but, in the end, everyone wants games schedules that work in the best way possible. It's challenging but it can be done."

Flashpoints emerge almost every year when a few clubs are faced with a county final and a provincial championship game inside 24 hours, sometimes having gone long periods without any action earlier in the season.

McGill said that while that unfortunate scenario invariably attracted headlines, the only way it can be eradicated for good is to streamline systems based on research and data.

"There are a range of reasons for fixture difficulties for clubs. It has to be treated as such, rather than in isolation. We're working towards doing that," he said.

Irish Independent

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