Tuesday 20 February 2018

GPA report backs league revamp to aid 'overwhelmed' young players

The launch of the GPA's report entitled 'Never Enough Time'
The launch of the GPA's report entitled 'Never Enough Time'
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

The GPA has called for the National Leagues to be pushed back and for the scrapping of the U-21 championship in favour of an U-20 competition.

The move comes after a report into the experience of third-level student county GAA players showed half felt "overwhelmed" by their various commitments.

The players' body insisted there was room in the calendar for a later start to the leagues and also called for the introduction of "competition windows" that would help ensure players line out for just one team at a given time.

"To me, it doesn't make a lot of sense. We kick off with the start of the National League and then there's a two-week break in the middle of the whole thing," GPA CEO Dessie Farrell said.

"There's no other competition in the world that is run on that basis. A big launch and then there's a pause, it goes again.

"I think you could definitely tighten it up. I think you could push it back. Again, I think there'd be an appetite there.


"It removes the overlapping (with third-level competitions)," Farrell explained. "Now you still have club but that's an issue you have to deal with anyway.

"But in terms of college, underage and senior, it's definitely confining those players to windows that everyone knows and buys into.

"In effect, you may only be playing with one team at a given time."

Farrell indicated that Croke Park's top brass were already open to their ideas and that the benefits of an U-20 competition "would outweigh the negatives".

The report found that players' education and well-being was suffering as a result of the demands being placed on them by playing for various teams.

"(There are) even crazy situations where fellas are being asked to travel to a gym during the week to complete their gym programmes.

"You can do a gym programme anywhere. There is some really basic stuff like that that needs to be tackled head on."

Irish Independent

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