Fionnuala Carr

Fionnuala Carr – Club players need to be heard

Declan Brennan, the former Clontibret player and manager who suffered from depression, has sought to start a club players association

Declan Brennan, the former Clontibret player and manager, has sought to start a club players association

Every Sunday I plant myself on the sofa and watch TG4 for at least three hours.

Thank God for TG4 because if it wasn’t for them then the clubs would only get to showcase themselves in front of their loyal followers.

Advertisement

The plight of the club player has long been documented but it has come to a head this year with the formation of the Club Players Association, the straw that broke the camel’s back came when a Roscommon club had to play their intermediate county final replay on a Saturday and the quarter final of the Connacht championship on the Sunday, 19.5 hours later to be exact.

This wasn’t the first time that this has happened and unfortunately I don’t think it will be the last but it was enough to spring people into action to take a stand for club players across Ireland.

In theory, the set-up of a Club Players Association is a great idea and one that is probably long overdue.

Club players need a voice but because they don’t fund the association in the same way as county players do then I wonder how much influence they will actually have or what will change as a result.

The GPA was formed to support the elite players and to make sure they were being looked after, but county players are the shop window of the GAA and with them comes a wide range of marketing and commercial background.

Look how long it took for the GAA to give them formal recognition and county players are paraded on TV from one end of the year to next.

The GPA knew this and use it to their advantage to make money and make sure that the welfare of county players are being looked after.

Will the CPA represent all club players from Senior to Junior in hurling and in football?

Would they have been strong enough to negotiate an agreement between the teams involved Connacht championship above?

Will they be able to speak to intercounty managers who think they can ban county players from playing for their clubs?

The Club Players Association is only going to tell the GAA what they already know, but they won’t influence a county manager to “release players”.

A manager might agree in principle but there is no way they would allow it to happen because they are judged on results and performance, they want the best players all the time.

County boards need to take a stronger stance here because a strong club scene facilitates a strong county team.

At the minute the GAA releases their own national fixture dates, provincial councils look after theirs and county boards look after their own.

Every year county leagues are starting earlier to ensure there is no backlog of fixtures but yet at the end of the year there is a backlog of fixtures and leagues are still being decided in November.

In some instances clubs are having to play two games in three days or some clubs are having to play county finals before provincial finals.

I genuinely don’t believe that club leagues should have starred games for a month before a county fixture or for club championships to be cancelled until their county team is out of the All Ireland series.

The club players should be offered the opportunity to play championship at the height of the summer, club players deserve to have this opportunity.

The issue with the clubs is much bigger and one that can only be addressed by those in Croke Park. The CPA is only going to tell the GAA what they already know and they will only be a success if it manages to make the people at the top level take action.

This week Down GAA the entire Attical community lost one of its stalwarts John Keenan.

John was a gentleman who took an avid interest in all things Irish and a man I had the pleasure of knowing.

He will be sadly missed by everyone and I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family and the wider Attical community.

May he Rest in Peace

Fionnuala Carr explains what it is like to be from a family which is so dedicated to Down GAA.

A good work ethic, and eagerness to improve are more important than stats according to Fionnuala Carr.

GAELIC Life columnist Fionnuala Carr has said that the Down squad can’t be content to live off their derby...