GAA Football

CPA calls on fixtures taskforce to 'capitalise on momentum' for split club-county season

Club Players' Association chairman Micheal Briody believes the GAA's fixtures taskforce must adopt a 'blank canvas approach' if they pursue a potentiual split club-county season. Picture by Sportsfile
Neil Loughran

THE Club Players’ Association (CPA) has called upon the GAA’s fixtures taskforce to “capitalise on the growing momentum for real change” as calls for a split club-county season grow ever louder.

The fixtures taskforce meets tomorrow and has a number of proposals to consider, with the idea to commence the inter-county campaign in February, end that series in July, and devote the remainder of the year to the club season high on the list of many who sit on the committee.

Last week the Gaelic Players’ Association (GPA) signalled its intention to propose a shorter inter-county season from next year. Their proposal allows for 'down time’ for elite players, with the final five months of the year allotted for the club game.

They are also keen to ease “unsustainable demands” on players in the current structure, instead suggesting a 23-week inter-county season.

The CPA was officially launched in January 2017, with their mission to help find a balanced fixture programme for club players. And chairman Micheal Briody feels the GAA’s fixtures taskforce must now reflect the growing mood for change.

“Circumstances have presented the GAA with a golden opportunity to trial a clear split in the season,” he said.

“The response from clubs, players and supporters has shown definitively there is merit in giving club and county their own clear windows, with the right governance structures in place.

“It may have taken different timelines and different routes to get to this point but there is a growing realisation that a split season approach is the best solution to fixing the fixtures.

“It is reassuring now to see that the GAA, GPA and CPA have come to similar conclusions. We have always said it is about what is right, not who is right.

“The current consensus has come about as a result of circumstances and the threat to our games posed by the disruption and uncertainty of Covid-19.

“But with any threat there is also very often an opportunity, and if the Taskforce can build on the current opportunity with evidence from the enforced split, then the GAA has a once in a generation chance to fix the fixtures.

“Our Association has the opportunity to come out of this dreadful scenario, stronger, better and more united than before.”

And, should the fixtures taskforce opt to follow this course of action, it will require “a blank canvas approach”.

“The fact that the taskforce is willing to consider additional season templates is reassuring,” said Briody.

“The GPA’s very positive adoption of a season split to accommodate fully club and county programmes is commendable and we strongly welcome it. We also commend the GPA and the GAA for acting now on the recent ESRI research they jointly commissioned, where 40 per cent of GPA members stated they choose the wrong career path in order to play the games they love and enjoy.

“We know the work that is involved in extensive research, drafting and taking a critical view of different calendar models because we spent time doing that ourselves from a blank canvas.

“Eleven models were drawn up by a team led by Liam Griffin. That work was given to GAA management to help the process. Within that work we have versions of the split season which we will resend to the fixtures taskforce to review in the coming weeks.

“The idea of the split season is more appealing and makes more sense because in our current situation we can see the profile the club game attracts, the pride it generates and the popularity of games in summer.

“We believe there are grounds for cautious optimism. An opportunity has presented itself, it would be unforgivable to let it pass.”

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