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Kernan: Fixtures still need radical overhaul

Club Players Association (CPA) executive member Aaron Kernan. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Club Players Association (CPA) executive member Aaron Kernan. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Club Players Association (CPA) executive member Aaron Kernan believes a "radical overhaul" of the fixtures plan is required despite the changes made for this season.

The GAA made a number of alterations to the calendar for 2018, all of which were aimed at freeing up more weekends for club action.

This year, more games will be decided on the day, the inter-county season will be wrapped up earlier, and April is largely being left free for club action.

While the former Armagh star agrees that the clearing of April will in particular help dual counties to run off their schedules, he believes that even more change is required if the club player is to get a fair deal.

"I know from the CPA's view it's (April) massive for dual counties, if you want the calendar year you needed it."

"Other than that it was pull the whole inter-county calendar shorter to leave more time to finish it out. That was too radical of a thing. So say Dublin in particular at the minute, they'll play two football and two hurling this month but they'll need it to get the year finished.

"It's a step in the right direction, definitely a step in the right direction, but it's not the ideal endgame."

Finishing all GAA action inside a calendar year remains Kernan's preferred option. He pointed to the Cuala hurlers who just weeks after winning their second All-Ireland title last month, were in action in the Dublin championship just a couple of weeks later while their inter-county players will soon go back into Pat Gilroy's set-up.

"Where's the buzz for them boys?" he asked. "Go out and celebrate for a week and then it's not even as if they're turning up for a league game, it's championship, so when do they get their break?

"How tired are their county players at this stage? They'd love nothing more than to do three in a row but it's a tough ask.

"I guarantee you that there's no break, no team holiday, no getting away from it. That was always my thing, it's a brilliant position to be in when you get to an All-Ireland club final, I wouldn't change it, but if I sit and look back now I never really got the chance to enjoy my All-Ireland wins and that disappoints me.

"I probably should have just went away but I always felt I owed it to Armagh to go straight back in with them the following week whether it was five or six days later. Some players don't do it but I just did.

"If I was being selfish I probably regret that I just didn't go and enjoy the buzz a bit more but that was the way the calendar was, constantly overlapping. I always felt it needed to change."

The Crossmaglen clubman believes the inter-county season could be finished even earlier if there was enough will within the GAA.

Extremely

"Ultimately I think if you want to do it, it's going to be extremely radical and someone is going to need to step in and pull it back.

"It's already been pulled three weeks and it need to go another three, but it's going to need a big man to step up and do it. If we are talking about a progressive organisation and looking after our players, it's going to have to happen and I think our organisation is going to grow, because clubs are going to grow as well as the inter-county game.

"The inter-county game will still be massive and will be the shop window. Everyone wants to be an inter-county footballer or hurler, that's the pinnacle. But you are affording the vast majority clarity of where they are going to be.

"I can show you my phone, I know every club league game we are playing in Armagh right up to the county final.

"I got that at the start of March, but the problem is there's only handful of counties doing that for their players.

"I get we are not the biggest dual county in the country, I understand that but I believe we have a county board that are very pro-active and who speak to the players and their clubs.

"Dialogue is open between them, and they are trying to tweak it all the time for the better of the players.

"But it shouldn't just be a few counties, every club player deserves the same from their county boards."

Irish Independent

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