Fionnuala Carr

Fionnuala Carr – The Mayo players were right

Mayo have rescheduled their club fixtures to allow the county team to prepare for the  All-Ireland final

Mayo have rescheduled their club fixtures to allow the county team to prepare for the All-Ireland final

The essence of a storm was brewing in Mayo following their win over Tipperary last weekend with the Mayo County Board having fixed a round of club championship fixtures for this weekend.

To be honest I’m not a supporter of clubs being put on hold for county fixtures or county players not being “released” to play for their clubs.

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While I don’t agree with Mayo players dictating to the county board again, I do think the Mayo players had a valid argument in this instance.

If the Mayo county board had acted first then they would most likely be commended for their actions, but now it looks like they have bowed to player pressure again.

When Mayo beat Tipp at the weekend it put them into an All-Ireland final when many people had written them off.

This is an opportunity for players and supporters alike to put to bed the ghosts of the past and finally get their hands on the Sam Maguire.

Their preparation in the lead up to the final would have been disrupted if the club games were permitted to go ahead because it would have been extremely hard for the players to come down from the high of Sunday, step out of that environment completely and focus on something which they will have been completely removed from this last number of weeks.

These players are finely-tuned athletes but the build up to the match, the match itself and the relief of being back in the final would have left them physically and mentally drained.

The players wouldn’t have been able to give it their all which is highly unfair to their clubs as well because it’s not giving them a fair chance of winning.

Players – whether it’s club or county – sometimes seem to suffer because administration takes over and there is a panic to get club fixtures played.

In Down, or any other county that I know of, the club championship is generally not played until the county team is put out of the championship.

I don’t agree with games being postponed for weeks on end at the start of the summer but for the sake of three weeks for one of the biggest prizes in Gaelic Football, could the Mayo county board not let common sense prevail and give the players the best possible opportunity that can be afforded to them?

The age old debate of club versus county is rearing its head again but this time I feel that the county team should take priority.

The club schedule isn’t a problem for 3-4 weeks at the end of August and beginning of September but is a much bigger problem that lasts all year round.

Club players suffer enough throughout the year but in this instance I don’t believe they would begrudge Mayo the opportunity to get their day in the sun.

A lot of people talk about fixtures and that something needs to be done to the GAA calendar and while I agree I only agree to a certain extent.

How many club fixtures and club players suffer because a county manager feels that they can dictate to county boards to get games called off or games are starred, meaning that club fixtures have to be played without county players?

I don’t believe there is any harm in a county player playing for their club up to two weeks or ten days before an intercounty championship fixture.

Down didn’t play their championship until the end of July despite the county not even making it to June, Dublin haven’t had a club championship fixture in months, Meath played one round robin fixture in May before their championship but didn’t play another one until July / August and Kilkenny camogie have suspended all fixtures from middle of July until after the All Ireland final.

That is the part that is unfair to clubs and it is also devaluing club championships.

The GAA talks about inclusiveness and respect for all, but there is no respect shown to clubs by county managers demanding fixtures be called off from May until September or until their county is put out of the championship.

County managers making players choose between one or the other, particularly for fringe players is wrong.

A player should never be put in the position where they have to choose between club or county.

This is something that has happened to me before and it is a horrible place to be.

I think the more games that a player is exposed to the better, whether it’s club football or county, honing your skills whilst under pressure will only improve you as a player.

The stronger the club players then the stronger the county which is surely a win win for both.

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