Donegal official blasts move to change club fixture list
DONEGAL GAA's decision to overhaul the playing of their county championship to facilitate Jim McGuinness and his senior footballers has come under fire from the secretary of their own fixtures committee.
The secretary of Donegal Competitions Controls Committee (CCC), Sean McGinley, has warned the county is facing a "potential crisis" next year following the agreement to postpone the start of their premier club competition until the 2012 All-Ireland winners are knocked out of the championship.
The county's clubs raised eyebrows in September when they gave their backing to the deferral of the championships at a meeting with county manager McGuinness, who had initially favoured the playing of either one or two rounds of championship football in April.
However, the clubs opted to postpone both senior and intermediate championships until Donegal make their exit from the All-Ireland race.
In his report for Sunday week's county convention, to be held in Letterkenny's Mount Errigal Hotel, Kilcar native McGinley has outlined the troubles that could face his county's fixture planners, considering that the International Rules series is to be held in Australia next year.
In October, Michael Murphy played two games in the space of 24 hours, captaining Ireland to a win over Australia on a Saturday night before playing for Glenswilly in the Donegal SFC final against Killybegs the following day.
"Given the Test series in Australia in 2014 we may face a potential crisis in completing our county finals in October. CCC cannot plan the championship until Donegal are knocked out of the All-Ireland series," McGinley writes in his report.
"I am disappointed with the decision to postpone the senior and intermediate championships until after Donegal exit the championship. In doing so we allowed clubs to make bad law which is in contravention of Rule 3.20 (e) (1) T.O. 2013.
"If we put off our senior and intermediate championships each year until the county team is out of the All-Ireland series, is that saying that club is not important and that county football is more important?
"This is a decision for all clubs, not 60/70pc. Remember, 98pc of players play club football/hurling only, the other 2pc play county."
The rule cited by McGinley, Rule 3.20, states that a county committee's powers include making regulations to govern the competitions under its control "and other matters incidental to its powers, functions and operations." It also states that "alterations may be considered only on an annual basis."
A total of 34 games were played in this year's Donegal SFC, under the new round-robin format which remains in place for 2014.
Following Donegal's decision to defer the commencement of the club championship, representatives of the county board were asked to attend a meeting in Croke Park to explain the decision, on foot of a letter of concern sent to the Association's management committee by the medical, scientific and welfare sub-committee.
No correspondence has been received by Donegal officials following that meeting at GAA headquarters last month.
In his report to convention, McGinley also seems to express frustration at the failure to adhere to plans agreed at the fixtures forum prior to the start of the season.
"We do not have the luxury, as most counties have, to play regular midweek games due to our distance from Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Cork, where a lot of club players find themselves now based. We simply do not have enough weekends to accommodate the playing of championship, league and U-21 competitions that involve players based outside the county."