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Stop treating club players like a mid-autumn afterthought

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Jim McGuinness was wrongly painted as a despot when reports emerged he had insisted there would be no club football played in Donegal until his team were finished in the Championship . Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Jim McGuinness was wrongly painted as a despot when reports emerged he had insisted there would be no club football played in Donegal until his team were finished in the Championship . Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Jim McGuinness was wrongly painted as a despot when reports emerged he had insisted there would be no club football played in Donegal until his team were finished in the Championship . Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

You don't like to knock someone when they're down, so taking on a whole county on the back of a narrow All-Ireland loss against the proudest county of them all may seem harsh. But that's not the intention.

There were criticisms, wrongly as it turned out, that Jim McGuinness had insisted earlier in the year that no club football would be played until his team were finished in the Championship. Pictures were painted of a despot.

Word soon filtered out in defence of Jim that the clubs had in fact made the decision. There was a collective sigh of relief from the GAA world that thankfully one man hadn't assumed so much power. Even Jimmy.

Excuse me? Give me the dictator any day. Dictators are mad but you only have to replace a madman once.

This is a whole way of thinking. Donegal clubs took the decision because that's what it takes to put yourself in the position to win an All-Ireland in the majority of places outside of Kerry and Dublin.

The message is ringing loud and clear in the Association at the moment: the county team is infinitely more important than the club team. Enough lip service please.

The word 'success' in relation to the GAA has undergone a transformation of sorts. Much like shifts in words such as 'politics' and 'economy', it represents the few at the expense of the greater good. Give football and hurling back to the villages and the towns. They need it.

It's a questionable ethos developing for an organisation bottling itself as amateur and community to the core, which doubtless it is on many levels.

It's simple. Define it, call it as it is, and then act appropriately in line with the decision. If it's county before club then Donegal's blueprint being inevitably followed is fine. We can accept it as a democratic organisation I'm sure.

But if it's to be truly club before county, then give the club player more respect than an afterthought in the middle of autumn. Enjoyable five weeks ahead, though.

Irish Independent