Friday 23 August 2019

‘Club players in Clontarf rarely play with the best player in the country... That's not right’ - Paraic Duffy on fixtures proposal

Jack McCaffrey
Jack McCaffrey

Declan Whooley

The GAA director-general Paraic Duffy believes the fixtures proposals to be brought to Congress will improve matters for the club, but has admitted it is up to county boards to police the recommendations if they are passed next year.

An 11-point plan seeks to rebalance more in favour of the club player by essentially clearing more ground in August, September and October for counties to complete their club championship programmes.

Extra-time in all championship matches, reducing the number of replays has been proposed despite the potential financial loss while other suggestions in the document include scrapping the league semi-finals, the All-Ireland junior and intermediate championships and introduce more dual league weekends and completing the All-Ireland under 21 hurling final before the All-Ireland senior hurling final.

Speaking on Newtsalk’s Off The Ball programme tonight, Duffy conceded that there is no quick-fix, but is confident that if the proposal succeeds, it will greatly improve the current situation.

“There is no easy solution to this,” he told listeners. “There is no silver bullet. It is a very intricate and delicate problem. What you have here are a series of measures that will make things better for the club players.

“It’s a series of small but significant things. It will certainly make it a bit better than it is now.”

Duffy acknowledges that both club and inter-county are currently suffering as a result of the lop-sided fixture lists.

“In many instances, club players only play the championship games. If you are in a successful county, those championship games are played at the end of the year in the bad weather.”

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“One of the gripes they have in Clontarf is Jack, not through Jack’s fault, rarely players with Clontarf. The club players in Clontarf rarely get to play with the best player in the country. That’s not right.

“At the end of it all, the club player is at the heart of the GAA.

The proposals will free up more weekends in the calendar, but when questioned on sanctions facing non-compliant inter-county managers and county boards, Duffy admitted it will have to be self-policed, but adds that the restructuring will help address this issue before it becomes a problem.

“We can’t run every county’s affairs for them, they have got to run their own affairs,” he said. “The vast majority of counties do want to find a balance.

“They are answerable to their own clubs, delegates and county boards.”

“At the moment there are 40 inter-county games in August and September that affect club games. If these proposals are accepted that number will fall to 11.”

The proposals will be brought to Congress next February.

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