Saturday 23 February 2019

'Less is more, GAA managers must learn that' - Collins

David Collins. Photo: Sportsfile
David Collins. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

While ruling out his own name being thrown into the hat for the vacant position of GPA chief executive, David Collins firmly believes that Dermot Earley's successor "needs to be a retired inter-county player".

Earley took the GPA's top job when Dessie Farrell stepped aside after a lengthy reign at the helm and Collins was shocked when the former Kildare All-Star stepped aside to return to the Defence Forces less than one year after taking the post.

"I was more so going, 'Damn it Dermot!' because if he had another two or three years there… he had started a great road map. I think he had started a great plan in action," GPA president Collins said.

"I was surprised to see him go after the year. I understand why he went in terms of the job that he has in the Army.

"That's his life, that always was his life and he always said that eventually he would go back there. It's a pity he didn't do two or three more years. I did like the way he worked and I had great time for him."

Based in Galway - where he works for Hewlett Packard - Collins has no immediate intentions to challenge for a role which he describes as "not an easy position" and believes the vacant Chief Operations Officer position - following Aidan Gordon's retirement last autumn - is of far greater urgency to the GPA and will be filled in the coming weeks.

Seamus Hickey is acting as interim CEO with Collins busy in the background working as part of the National Executive Committee (NEC) but while the GPA plays no part in the appointment of the new GAA director-general, Collins would like to see their positive relationship maintained.

"We had a great relationship with Páraic Duffy, any time we had an issue it was resolved via a phone call or a meeting and there was always a communication channel with them so I'd like to see that continue, that has to continue with whoever goes in there," the former Galway hurling captain said.

"That tie from the GAA to the GPA, you don't want too big of a gap developing but we're a players' organisation and we need to remain that, we need to remain there to fight for players and to actually make sure players are looked after."

One player welfare issue gaining more traction is the training demands on players and having stepped away from the inter-county scene in 2017 after 13 seasons with the Tribesmen, Collins is well placed to comment and feels less should replace more in a manager's approach.

Speaking ahead of Liam Mellows' AIB All-Ireland club SHC semi-final meeting with reigning champions Cuala this Saturday, the 33-year-old feels the situation has reached a "crazy" level and called for common sense to prevail.

"The times have changed from what when I started off. Players are not unfit any more. They are not unfit throughout the year, so I don't think that need for six days a week, seven days a week training is required. It's going to be a major issue going forward.

"It is crazy and in my own eyes I don't think there's any need for it. To be training a fella when he's 21 years or age or 20 years or age in a dogging sense and you know he's going out playing inter-county that weekend, there really is no need, you need sharpening.

"We're going up against Con O'Callaghan the next day, he's so well managed. He's not being dogged, he's fit and he's healthy all the time. That's where it's going to have to go. Managers are going to have to buy into it and get on board.

"Players are dedicated, they've shown their dedication to the cause really and there's no messing with them any more, they're not drinking, they're not eating crap."

With that in mind, Collins feels Duffy's replacement must have "a clear vision" of what direction the GAA is leaning towards as he fears that player welfare is getting lost within its commercialisation.

"Players are going to get so annoyed and so frustrated with it and they're going to have to maintain it better. That's why I nearly lost a love for the game."

Irish Independent

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