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GAA Fixtures

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail speaks on the big issues in GAA...

Tyrone footballer Colm Cavanagh is presented with his PwC All Star award from GAA Presidenmt Aogán Ó Fearghail. Picture by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
From Cahair O'Kane in Perth


An International Rules test in America…

“There was always that interest in playing a game in America going back one time but a lot of people didn’t realise we just didn’t have a pitch. There are very few pitches in America with the dimensions that can take a crowd and dimensions to play it. We did genuinely look two years ago at New York and Boston and couldn’t find it. But there is now a good possibility that we may get one on the east coast. It’s not definite but there’s a good possibility.”

Rugby World Cup bid’s failure affecting GAA stadium upgrades…

“We always find resources to upgrade our grounds. It would have been nice if this had happened. I would argue that we should always be state assistance to upgrade our grounds. If you look at Australia, if you look at every country and I visit a lot of them, they’re all heavily funded in facility terms. If you took the GAA infrastructure out of Ireland there is very little sporting infrastructure. Wipe out the GAA and what sporting facilities do we have left? I believe there is a strong case for the level of funding that was promised by Government level. That should continue.”

Risk of widespread change next year…

“It’s not risky. We wouldn’t have done any of this if we thought there was a risk. This has been thought about slowly over, I would suggest 10 to 12 years - changing championship structures and what way we would change them. The player is at the centre of everything in all this. Driven by player and club welfare. We’ve given up all of September. We have ceded financially on replays. We have done all of this to give more space to our club players and improve player welfare. Let’s change our calendar in its totality next year.”

Hurling to fall into line with football and move to under-20…

“Hurling needs to go to under-20 and I can’t see any argument against it. Tipperary wanted that to happen and they were right but they didn’t win the day. I accept democracy – I can’t accept it just when things go your way – but I believe that it should happen and the logic stacks up that way.”

CPA sniping…

“We all know the issues with clubs. People sniping at the GAA? That started in 1884 and is something I suspect will be still going on in a thousand years. But snipers usually run out of time and ammunition.”

GPA wage bill, which was just under €1m in 2016…

“I don’t know what their salaries are but I absolutely do know, because this was a key part of our agreement, that any expenditure by the GPA in terms of salaries, only 25 per cent of our money can be spent on that. That’s an absolute given. We all have an interest as citizens how government and how private agencies spend their money, but we can’t have control of it. In the GAA we should always have control of our money, and I’d be totally comfortable how we spend our money in the GAA. The other 75 per cent has to come from other sources.”

All-Ireland SFC qualifiers still a concern…

“It’s one part of the jigsaw I admit I wouldn’t be fully comfortable with. I believe if you’re in Division Four in football, you have been for a number of years and you have a record of losing your first round championship match, you should go into a separate competition. I think you should play for Sam Maguire in your first game but if you’re beaten in that, you should enter a meaningful competition. We did argue that and those counties felt they didn’t want that. It was discussed at Central Council and counties not involved felt maybe not.”

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