Last week, the GAA got tough. Neither John Horan nor Tom Ryan should have to speak softly and carry a big stick, but if county boards don't or won't carry out directives from Croke Park then the whole organisation becomes ungovernable
Imagine if clubs also decided that they would pick and choose what directives they would like to implement. It would closely resemble anarchy and I did feel sorry for both Ryan and Horan that in trying to do the right thing with a club window, they ended up in the manure.
After the latest online meeting, where those with power had to wield it, peace seems to have broken out.
This period of calm is a bit like relations between Palestine and Israel - things can go belly up very quickly. However, an uneasy peace is holding up and last week clubs went about training with their county men. Last weekend, I watched a challenge match between Na Fianna from Dublin and Simonstown of Meath and it was far more meaningful with county players on both sides.
The same applies to training. When county players are there for club training it gives everyone a bit of a lift, especially if the county men don't think they are prima donnas but are willing to get stuck in and give a lead. Better still if they do that without trying to tell everyone what they are doing wrong.
When I wrote the piece last week I said it was now up to county boards to put in place a comprehensive games schedule for all club players, but I feared that some might play hard and fast with their championships to get them finished early in order to suit their own county team. Very quickly I received correspondence from a fellow Meath man to say that I should have a look at my own county before throwing stones at somebody else's glass house.
It was only this week after taking charge of the junior B team in the club that I started to have a look at fixtures in Meath.
I don't know whether I should be shocked, disappointed or just annoyed at what I saw. Senior and junior players are guaranteed three league and three championship matches.
In the senior championship the top teams from four groups of four qualify for the semi-finals. These round-robin games will be over by the end of August, as will two of the league matches.
So club teams in Meath are being handed a six-week club season if you do not qualify for knock-out football. The majority will play almost no football in September and none at all in October and November.
After being locked down for four months, the season is over in less than two months for most.
A footballer in Meath got a couple of matches in the early part of the year, he now has two months of football and nothing again until next February. The role of the CCC in any county is to promote games. This can only be done by having clubs playing games, games, games. Not by tidying up fixtures.
On closer examination there are six hurling league games for clubs. What is going on in a county where there are four times as many footballers as hurlers?
There is no reason why the hurlers should not have six or eight games, but football clubs should have fixtures up to November.
This idea of dual players is beginning to really grate with me. Matches should be fixed to suit the vast majority, if somebody has to choose what to play on occasions then so be it. The majority have to be catered for.
In many ways this sums up the drift in Meath. Without a continuous number of games there will be no improvement in standards, in fitness, loyalty to clubs or participation rates. What are club players supposed to do between the end of August and next February?
This reminds me of the advertisement on TV where eight out of ten cats prefer a particular type of cat food. Strangely enough at least ten out of ten players prefer to play games. That is what the county board is there for. To fix matches.
Clubs would have no problem playing league matches when their top players go back training with the county team. They just want a regular series of games. Is that asking too much?
Meanwhile, if you happen to be on the third team in your club you are guaranteed only three matches for the rest of the year. So it is no wonder that dropout rates in the GAA are so big. Players who don't get games go off to play soccer, rugby or tiddlywinks. At least they know when they are getting a game.
This is an obvious chance for those on committee in Meath and in every other county where there are similar problems to tell their own CCC to come back with a proper set of fixtures.
That is called leadership, but rule is by committee with nobody taking individual responsibility.
In the past chairmen like Fr Tully and Fintan Ginnity just rode roughshod over those who wished to block progress. Now we just stagnate.
In almost every county the normal scrutiny of county board affairs has been suspended because of the inability to have meetings. So there is less attention paid to things at club level as committees are not meeting much there either.
Clare had a novel way of having their county board meeting with a truck for the executive and the rest in the stand. I was just thinking that Carnaross Mart would be the right place for a meeting in Meath and if the mart was on it would only add to the entertainment. There are plenty of delegates who could buy a bullock and sort out fixtures at the same time.
This sort of situation is happening in every county and it makes the case even more clearly for the need to have a review body at central level to see if counties all over the country are doing what it says on the tin, giving their players a regular series of matches.
The fixtures review body have recommended that. Every game does not have to be do-or-die, but a club player should have competition from February until the end October.
If we do not look after our own players then it is no wonder that they drift away to other codes or just do nothing.
Last week I made the suggestion that clubs could look at organising end of year tournaments. That is fine for senior clubs with good facilities. It does not work for everyone and clubs should not have to resemble a 'begging ass' - a phrase widely used down the country - looking for matches.
Not only that but the issue would be easily solved if some county boards did their job.
Sunday Indo Sport