GAA Football

CPA seeks even tighter Championship timeframe

The Club Players' Association will seek for the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final series to be finished by no later than the second week in July.
Cahair O'Kane and Gerry McLaughlin

THE Club Players’ Association are making a move to further condense the All-Ireland football and hurling championships by taking a number of motions through clubs towards Annual Congress.

The unofficial representative body for club players has released details of eight motions that it hopes to get to the floor of Congress next year in its most forthright move on affecting change so far.

They will put forward a motion to create a rule that would see the All-Ireland football round-robin quarter-final series finished by “no later than the second weekend in July.”

In the GAA’s fixture calendar for 2018, which has shaved several weeks off the already condensed championships, the round robin series is only due to begin on the third weekend of July, and run until the first weekend in August.

The CPA is also continuing to attempt to solidify the GAA’s olive branch of clearing April for club activity by reaffirming their hope that an entire four-week block would be free of all inter-county training and matches.

In bringing next year’s National League football final to April 1, the GAA ring-fenced the rest of the month for club activity but stopped short of calling the ban on inter-county activity that the CPA wants.

However, the club players’ body will ask for a “mandatory closed period for games and collective training of all inter-county panels for four consecutive weekends between April 1 and May 20”.

Donegal manager Declan Bonner is one of the first to allude to the resistance that will inevitably come from the inter-county game, saying it “is just not going to wash” and that the month of April will be “vital to our preparation”.

“That is where our focus lies and you are judged on how well you get on in the championship.

“We need to be coming into our peak and the final week before the game is usually down time so that makes April even more important for us”.

And he was not convinced that a suggested compromise of him having the players from Monday to Thursday with players then playing for their clubs at the weekend, would be workable.

“That is not realistic as we do much of our main work at the weekend.

“You also have to factor in that we have 10-12 players away in various locations so we might not see too much of them until the weekend.

“I know that some players will need matches with their clubs and I have the utmost respect for the clubs, but I have to try and be realistic.”

One of the other CPA motions tabled is calling for a players’ representative from each county to be included as a mandatory delegate to Congress, and that each club has a players’ rep included as a delegate to their annual county convention.

They are also seeking for the GAA to have a master fixtures plan in place by January 1 each year that gives club players specific dates for each championship game.

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