Sport GAA

Saturday 18 November 2017

'My own young lad came in and said he'd had enough'

'Positive discontent' has spawned movement for change, warns Griffin

Griffin: “Fixtures has been a major issue in all our lifetime.” Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Griffin: “Fixtures has been a major issue in all our lifetime.” Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

They put a man on the moon almost half a century ago while today you can contact someone in the middle of the Sahara desert or switch the heat and light on in your home from 100 miles away!

Such observations were part of Liam Griffin's perspective on progress and evolution within modern society and why, when it comes to the GAA's great fixtures conundrum, it shouldn't be that difficult to make necessary changes to give everyone a more balanced diet of games.

As ever the former Wexford manager's contribution was colourful as he explained why he was getting involved in a movement that he says has spawned from "positive discontent".

"Fixtures has been a major issue in all our lifetime," said Griffin. "When I was young we were giving walkovers in our club, which wasn't a great club - there were knock-out championships, one game in the year and you were gone. . . coaching kids then and finding a 90pc drop out of kids because of structures.

"I was pushing an open door. My own young lad came in at 27 and said he'd had enough. Threw his hurl in the corner and said 'that's it'. Again back to matches not being played, four at training because there was no match for six weeks.

"The culmination of all that made it an easy sell for me and I admired what Declan Brennan had done to set it up."

Griffin describes the training to games ratio for inter-county and club players as "insane" - at one stage the GAA's own medical, scientific and welfare committee figured it to be 13:1 at inter-county level. He believes that more "intelligence" needs to be gathered by the GAA on what is happening with club fixtures, something the CPA intend to track themselves over the next year.

"We need to gather the intelligence, that's what I want to see happening," said Griffin. "We gather it from the playing population and say 'what is your situation?' We have no way of gathering that information at the moment."

The requirement of Congress for two-thirds approval to pass a motion was also in his sights yesterday.

"They are going to put a man in in America as president and whether he's nuts or not I don't know but he didn't even get an overall majority and he got in," argued Griffin.

"Yet we can't get a motion unless there's a two-thirds majority and then someone stumps up a rule-book to stop something he personally doesn't like.

"Where is the intelligence saying that's correct?

"If the intelligence from the players saying this is correct why aren't we following what our own people tell us? Or are we going to say we won't do what our players want us to do? It's not right."

Martin McHugh, manager of Cavan when they last won an Ulster title in 1997 and now back as boss of his club Kilcar, feels a solution should be easier to grasp than it is proving.

He too had his own personal experience of the problems.

"If we don't do this, you're going to end up with a situation down the road where strong club teams with big populations are going to be controlling the whole thing and it's going to get more difficult for the small club player.

"Something has to be done for senior players under 24 not getting games for the county and not getting club games.

"And minors now are in the same situation. I had a young player during the year, he was No 23 or 24 in the team and never played a game. . . it came to the championship then with me and he said, 'do you want me?' and I hadn't seen him all year.

"Surely to God that young fella would be far better off at 18 years of age playing club games and that would make him a better player."

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