Aideen Gillen welcomes Páraic Duffy's proposals to shorten Ulster SFC
A LEADING Donegal official has warmly welcomed Páraic Duffy’s proposal to shorten the Ulster Senior Football Championship.
However, in her annual report, which will be read to delegates at Sunday’s county convention at the Abbey Hotel, Donegal secretary Aideen Gillen says her support comes with some concerns.
Gillen said she had a “fear that his proposed shorter Championship schedule will impact on the availability of the county panel to their club from early February until when the county exits the All-Ireland series”.
And she is not in favour of the proposals passed in Congress in relation to minor players and U17’s not being allowed to play, as it had a “detrimental effect on our clubs, especially with our reserve teams”.
Gillen feels it is wrong that players are available at levels other than club: “Our players could not play for our clubs, however, they can play other codes,” she said.
“Páraic Duffy’s new proposal is welcome and worth examining and I agree that club players need a fairer schedule of games. The comparison with last year’s Ulster Championship will have Ulster commencing on May 1 and the final scheduled for June 19, which is a total of eight weekends.
“The 2016 Championship began on May 15 and the final took place on July 17 - which was 10 weekends. The fact that he asks for extra-time to be played instead of replays is commendable and this will eventually free up more weekends.”
Gillen added Duffy’s proposals would mean having most county players available to their clubs in early August, but a major concern remains with the strength of club teams available to play in county leagues during the summer.
And she warned that the GAA faces a real challenge with growing emigration, something that is reflected by the number of transfer requests at county committee meetings.
“We must recognise the changing environment in which we are now living and the decline of rural life as we once knew it,” she said.
“The challenges facing rural GAA clubs continue to grow with the lack of employment contributing to our youth emigrating. Our county committee meetings continue to reflect this with the large numbers transferring to clubs across the globe.”
Gillen also congratulated Ryan McHugh on winning an Allstar. And she added that the county was also very pleased to be awarded three Irish News Ulster Allstars in Armagh in September, to McHugh, his cousin Eoin and corner-back Paddy McGrath.
She also congratulated James Connors (St Eunan’s) and Naul McCole (Dungloe) who were presented with the president’s award for refereeing and lifetime service to the GAA awards respectively.