CPA calls on Croke Park to "take a stand for once and for all"
CLUB Players Association chairman Micheál Briody says shortened club championships are “sacrilege” and that sanctions must be imposed on counties that breach the guidelines on a return to inter-county training.
A survey conducted by The Irish News last weekend found that a significant majority of counties will favour round-robin championships, many of which be finished in September.
Some counties have found themselves under heavy scrutiny, not least Wexford, where it's proposed that their club hurling championship will be run off over just 21 days and finish on August 23.
The GAA had allocated an 11-week window up until October 11 for clubs to play their games, on which no restrictions were imposed by Croke Park.
Inter-county teams are precluded from training together until September 14, something GAA Director of Player, Club and Games Administration, Feargal McGill, admitted he didn't expect county managers to be happy about.
Amid concerns that county teams will breach the guidelines and begin training in advance of the date, the CPA has called for the GAA to “take a stand for once and for all”.
”As an association we must respect the integrity of our club competitions and this means using the time available in the best possible way,” said Briody in a statement.
“Suggestions of running of championships in blitz format or shrunk to a very tight timeframe to enable county preparations are sacrilege and will have long lasting implications.”
The CPA has asked for clarity on what the GAA are “going to do to ensure all counties optimally use the 11 weeks allocated”, as well as ensuring that inter-county players aren't pulled into county training during club championships.
“Already we have seen different counties proposing blitz competitions to get club competitions out of the way so their intercounty teams can resume training as early as possible,” said Briody.
“Is this not a once in a lifetime opportunity for the leadership of the GAA to enforce fairness on each county so a level playing field is achieved?
“In some counties, inter-county managers have very strong influence over the fixtures scheduling. We call on Croke Park through the powers vested in the management committee at a Special Congress held on April 17, 2020, to use those powers to take a stand once and for all on this and rule with appropriate sanction.”
Briody did praise the GAA's “very clear and unambiguous leadership” at the beginning of the pandemic crisis, saying that it “undoubtedly saved lives”.
“We also commend clubs and their members for coming together to help others in their communities during the pandemic. It has shown the underlying strength of the GAA lies in the grassroots community led togetherness.
“Now as we return to play our games it is very positive that club hurling and football has been allocated 11 weeks at the height of summer. It will bring a great lift to communities to get our games back under way, however we have a number of concerns we are asking GAA leadership to address.”
The Club Players' Association also recently held its AGM, at which former Corofin and Galway star Kieran Fitzgerald was among five new faces added to their executive.
“I have seen at first hand the unnecessary sacrifices players have had to make and the pressures players have been put under just to play the game they love because of lack of consideration and foresight by leadership of the GAA,” said the former Allstar and All-Ireland winner at both county and club level.
“The club game is the heartbeat of the GAA but due to neglect and disregard, it is slowly dying on its feet.
“I am delighted to join the national executive of CPA and I am looking forward to assisting in getting a positive outcome in this regard for club players across the country.”
Cahir Healy (Portlaoise, Laois), Denis Coughlan (Glen Rovers, Cork), Colm Garvey (Kilmore, Roscommon) and Paraic Fanning (Mount Sion, Waterford) have also been added.
Michael Higgins (secretary) and Anthony Moyles (treasurer) both stepped down, replaced by Tommie Kenoy and Joan Kehoe respectively.