GAA Football

CPA face uphill battle to resolve fixtures problem says Kieran McGeeney

Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney feels 'you can't please everybody' when it comes to sorting out the GAA's fixtures mess
Neil Loughran

THE Club Players’ Association (CPA) faces an uphill battle to force any meaningful change to the GAA’s chronic fixtures problem, according to Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney.

Earlier this week the CPA called on director general Paraic Duffy to “park” his Championship proposals, which are set to go before the GAA’s annual Congress on February 24/25.

The club players’ body felt Duffy’s reforms – which include the proposed introduction of a ‘super league’ for the quarter-final stages – “didn’t go far enough” as the CPA have previously stated their desire to see the All-Ireland Championships wrapped up by the start of August.

McGeeney has always said he would be in favour of a shorter inter-county season, but believes finding a solution that suits all parties is virtually impossible.

He said: “Everybody knows something has to be done about the fixtures, but I’ve got a funny feeling everybody knows that there’s not going to be really anything done about them.

“It’ll probably toddle on and come back to the same thing - that county managers are killing clubs. The fixtures thing’s a mess, somebody’s going to have to take hold of it, but the probability is that it isn’t [going to be taken hold of] and we’re just going to use tradition as an excuse for not doing it.”

Continuing, he said: “I would love to see a shorter season and I would love to see a season where you would have access to your players all the time.

“Contrary to popular belief, and I think you’ll hear it from most county managers, you don’t. It’s hard to keep everybody happy. People like to write headlines in specific cases but if you look at the whole spectrum of the year, most people are looked after reasonably well. Most clubs get their players most of the time, most counties get their players most of the time.”

Financial reality remains a huge consideration too, according to McGeeney, and the Championship provides a vital “shop window” for Gaelic Games.

“At the end of the day the Championship is what pays for everything else,” he added.

“Whether people like it or not, even though it’s a volunteer organisation, it needs money to exist and the Championship provides that.

“And the Championship needs to be good, even for a shop window for your kids and everything else. They have a duty of care towards the organisation to make sure that Championship is at its highest level.

“The complexities that are involved in trying to come up with the right thing are many if you want to keep everybody happy. Grassroots is a cornerstone of our organisation so there are so many different aspects to it.”

Last week Mickey Harte said the ills of the GAA fixture schedule shouldn’t be blamed on “the county scene”, and McGeeney is inclined to agree with the Tyrone managers.

“Mickey Harte made a lot of valid points that the majority of players are getting games,” added the Orchard boss.

“Even if you take a county team, there’s probably about 16 clubs represented out of an average of 50, so there’s still a lot of clubs getting it and then most counties are gone by the middle of July.

“It’s just the top counties, but then you don’t really hear that much from the top counties giving out.”

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GAA Football