GAA Football

Club Players' Association proposes ending Championship by early August

The Club Players' Association was officially launched at St Enda's, Ballyboden on Monday  
Neil Loughran

WRAPPING up the All-Ireland football and hurling Championships by the start of August could be one way of resolving the GAA’s chronic fixtures problem, according to the secretary of the newly-established Club Players’ Association (CPA).

Declan Brennan admitted there were elements of GAA director-general Páraic Duffy’s Championship overhaul he agreed with, but he feels it “doesn’t go far enough” and believes the inter-county summer needs to be condensed even further.

Speaking at the official launch of the CPA at the home of reigning All-Ireland club football champions Ballyboden on Monday, the Monaghan man outlined the difficulties faced by club players across Ireland under the current system.

Designed to give club players a voice, he said the body was working on a proposal and stated that he would favour the Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups being handed out by “at least August bank holiday weekend - at least”.

“We're looking at different issues but the reality is we want to pull the All-Irelands back,” said Brennan.

“We want to condense the provincial championships. Everything is on the table. There's nothing a given, if we feel something is not in the interests of club players then we won't be in favour of it. We'll come straight out with it. Everything is up for looking at. We want something set in stone that we can back up and we're going to police it, in conjunction with the GAA.”

Micheal Briody, chairman of the CPA, elaborated: “The single biggest issue concerning GAA players is fixtures. Players want to play games,” said the Meath man.

“A county secretary said in his annual report that there shouldn’t be a need for the CPA – he’s right, there shouldn’t be. If we can get our house in order in the next five years, the CPA will not need to exist.

"Since the idea of the CPA was first floated we have been inundated with emails and calls from club players expressing their frustration at the way in which our fixtures are managed. As an Association if we have to slaughter a few sacred cows along the way, then so be it."

On Duffy’s proposal, which would see the last eight teams split into two groups of four and play off against each other over three weekends , Brennan added: “As a group, we haven't decided. We haven't put it on the table to discuss going forward.

“We don't think it [Duffy's proposal] goes far enough and we really, really think there needs to be radical changes.

“I can see where Páraic Duffy is coming from, step by step and make small changes and the extra-time and no replays and things like that, that's all positive. But at the end of the day there's a lot of monetary interests here and they're trying to create a buzz around the August weekend to bring in money for the association. Our club games are as entertaining and need to be brought to the forefront at a better time of year.”

At next month's GAA congress, there is a motion from Wexford to officially recognise the CPA as the representative body for the club player. Despite the short turnaround, Brennan is confident it can lead to the club player being placed “at the heart of the decision-making process".

“Will it be a problem at Congress? I don’t think so,” he predicted.

“If you saw some of the emails from people who are afraid to talk in clubs because there’s a big disconnect, I think we can be the link. I think we’re doing Paraic Duffy a massive favour.”

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BRENNAN has insisted there will be “no jobs for the boys” following the launch of the new body on Monday.

Asked about the difference between the CPA and the Gaelic Players’ Association, the former Monaghan selector insisted no member of the CPA would be paid: “There’s not one person here is employed or will be employed going forward - there’s no jobs for the boys, there’ll be no salaries, we just want to do a job to fix the fixtures,” he said.

“Every single person here is doing this on a voluntary basis, no expenses, no money involved.”

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