Friday 17 November 2017

GPA backing championship extension for lower-tier sides

At the launch of the GPA's report on Ring, Rackard and Meagher competitions are, from left, Mark Curry, Fermanagh senior hurler, Donal O'Grady, author of the report, Paul Divilly, Kildare senior hurler, and James Toher, Meath Senior hurler
At the launch of the GPA's report on Ring, Rackard and Meagher competitions are, from left, Mark Curry, Fermanagh senior hurler, Donal O'Grady, author of the report, Paul Divilly, Kildare senior hurler, and James Toher, Meath Senior hurler
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

A report into the experience of inter-county hurlers in the Ring, Rackard and Meagher competitions has led to calls for an extension to their championship season.

The report, which was written by former Cork All-Ireland-winning manager Donal O'Grady on behalf of the Gaelic Players' Association (GPA), makes a number of recommendations including the introduction of a more competitive Christy Ring Cup, the appointment of a dedicated promotions officer for the competitions as well as a promotional campaign to raise their profile.

"It's ten years since these competitions came in," O'Grady commented.

"So it's timely that we had a look at them and what we can do to improve them and we have made a number of suggestions that we feel could do that."

The most difficult change proposed is the extension of the season in an already jam-packed calendar.

In 2015, the Christy Ring Cup was finished off in just over a month with the opening round taking place on May 2 and the final played on June 6.

"We understand that an extension to competitions could cause problems for fixture-makers," O'Grady said.

Serious

"But we found that players were finding that if they picked up an injury coming up to or in the competition, they could lose their spot or even lose their whole season to an injury that might not be that serious because they were playing in such a tight window and there's little time for rest and recovery."

As part of the report, players from 20 counties across the three competitions responded to a survey that found the seven out of ten felt their county boards placed little importance on the competitions.

A similar number felt it was vital to continue playing the finals of the competitions in Croke Park.

And while many similar reports have been published throughout the years, O'Grady is confident that Croke Park will take the recommendations seriously.

"There was plenty of goodwill from Croke Park and they were very supportive of anything we can do for these competitions. Obviously there might be a few constraints in what can be done.

"The players were happy too that their views were being sought.

"It's a building block and we'll see where we go from here. I think in general people are quite happy with these competitions and that they like them.

"But it was time to have a look at them and see how we can improve things."

Irish Independent

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