Tuesday, December 1, 2015

GAA and GPA don't share the same vision for fixtures reform

Yesterday the Examiner hinted how the GPA and the GAA are heading for confrontation on the proposals for fixtures reform and presented further evidence of this again today.

The GPA represented by Sean Potts, their head of communications, are insisting that their proposal for changes to the championship structure should be considered by Congress. Despite being contrary to the objectives of Pairic Duffy's reforms which aim to achieve less inter-county matches, the GPA want more. Almost 40 games more. And they're not shy about reminding us that as the inter-county bring in 80% of the funding of the GAA - according to Potts - they should be listened to.

However, in a separate piece the Examiner also reports on comments from Peter Twiss, the Kerry GAA Secretary who is in favour of the GAA's reforms: “If people really want something done about club fixtures then they should give these proposals serious consideration".

It's too early to judge whether Twiss' position is reflected in the County Boards in other counties. But it is clear that we're in for an interesting three months in the build-up to Congress in February. If club players really want to see the reforms voted through then they need to start making their voices heard.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Promoting the GAA Internationally

There's been lots written over the past week about promoting the GAA internationally following the International Rules game in Dublin and the 'Classic' Hurling match between Galway and Dublin in Fenway Park.

Keith Duggan in Saturday's Irish Times claimed that 'The world is happy to leave Gaelic Games to the Irish' and that the exposure gained from such an event is not going to impact playing numbers in the US. His opinion was echoed by many others who don't see the point.

However, as Dessie Farrell pointed out if the right strategy is adopted then games like the Super 11 can have an important promotional as well as developmental role. But then who is going to adopt the right strategy? Is it the GAA's role or the GPA's role? Or shouldn't they be working together?

Why weren't hurling teams based in the US and Canada invited to participate in a Super 11 tournament that could have taken place the same weekend in Boston with the Galway v Dublin match the culmination of a hurling weekend? Am sure teams like Indianapolis and Milwaukee who are made up of almost all Americans would have been thrilled to be invited, take part and see the best players in their chosen sport in action. 

And we don't have to look very far abroad to see that Gaelic Games ARE growing outside of Ireland with keen interest from non-Irish to grow the game. For example, in France this weekend the French Gaelic Football Federation welcomed Azur Gaels, the 23rd club to join the federation and in the same weekend Brittany inaugurated the first women's championship with three teams participating.

But that's not all, there's more to come with several more Gaelic football teams planned in Angers, Caen, Narbonne and Saint-Lô.

There may be trouble ahead...

There are growing signs that the GAA and GPA are once again on collision course.

In today's Examiner John Fogarty suggests that the two could be at 'loggerheads' over their opposing plans for the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. The GPA want more inter-county games - with 31 out of 32 county panels in support of their proposals for more games per year - while the GAA want less games in order to rebalance county fixtures with club fixtures.

It's hard to see how the GPA will want to go along with a GAA administration that is advocating change in the direction of the clubs. 

"The bottom line is quite simple. This is about shifting the balance unashamedly, unapologetically from inter-county to club activity," says Aogán O Fearghail, GAA President, in an interview with Martin Breheny in Saturday's Indo.

Perhaps Donal Óg Cusack was hinting that more friction was on its way when he said that 'There always needs to be friction between players and administrators’. Afterall the five year protocol agreement signed in 2011 only continues another 10 months so it will be interesting to see if the GPA make reform of the football championship a central part of a new agreement with the GAA.

Will be interesting to see what happens in February at Congress as the GAA has a very big call to make.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Super Clubs, Super Rangers

The Irish Post draws a good comparison between Crossmaglen Rangers and Nemo Rangers, pointing out how these two powerhouses in club football prioritise coaching young players and keeping all players involved with their clubs.

Templates many other clubs would like to replicate.

GAA Club Players 'Demoralised'

Senior club players are 'very frustrated and demoralised' according to Donal Murphy, Chairman of Rathmore GAA Club.

The Examiner reports that their frustration is such that the players and management of the club were behind a motion put to the Kerry County Board to  postpone all SFC games between July's Munster final and Kerry's exit from the All-Ireland football championship.

They were so fed-up with the current situation that they would prefer to know in advance that they have no championship games at all in the summer months, than to be training for games that may or may not happen.

Thankfully, the Kerry board have rejected the proposal but it demonstrates the feelings of club players in the GAA who want certainty in the fixtures and to be able to plan their lives.

Recently on newstalkTomás Ó Sé, having experienced a season as a club player he thinks they get a 'raw deal' and are 'struggling to get their voice heard'.

Club players come second. It's time to change that.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Club Fixtures: Joe.ie calls it 'A Plaster for an Open Wound'

I'm with Kevin McGillicuddy. The proposals for the fixtures problem just don't go far enough.

The real problem lies in the summer when the provincial inter-county championships monopolise the fine weather and deny club players the best conditions to play the club championships.

And as Kevin points out, the County Boards are left in charge of this problem but their priority is not giving club players meaningful games it's chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and doing anything and everything to ensure the county team's success. They are caught in the Catch-22 of pumping money into the preparation of county teams and dependent on the county team's success to recoup the money invested.

Club Fixtures: Jackie Cahill raises the issues

Interesting comments in Jackie Cahill's piece on the GAA section of The42.ie on Padraig Duffy's fixtures proposals.

Perhaps it is time for a Gaelic CLUB Players Association. Inter-county players are 'selfish' as Tomas O'Se admitted on Off the Ball. Although that's not something we didn't know already given the GPA's words and actions since its inception.

The club players have no-one to convey their collective voice despite representing the vast majority of the GAA's playing membership. The 'elitist cartel' as Joe Brolly calls them has Croke Park and the County Boards under its control and the national media only care about the county scene as that's what sells papers, gets them clicks and pays their wages. And it seems anytime there's a committee or panel created to look into these matters it consists of ex-county players who have a bias towards the inter-county game.

But how could a Club Players body come into existence? It was hard enough to form the GPA.

The Fermanagh Herald on Club Fixtures

Padraig Duffy's proposals for fixtures and player burn-out have generated some commentary since their publication recently.

Chris Breen in the Fermanagh Herald has a good piece today and makes some important points on how the proposals fall short.

Bringing forward the All-Ireland finals by two weeks is positive and is to be welcome. But, the problem doesn't lie in August no September for most countries it's the months preceding it. Couldn't agree more. Despite the 13 day rule few counties play their club championship fixtures between inter-county championship matches. The predominant discourse in the media led by ex-county players and managers is that the two can't be played side-by-side. This is wrong and treats club players as second class citizens.

Ending replays as Chris points out could hurt the GAA financially but the players - the vast majority of them being club players - are the real 'currency' of the GAA and need to be protected. It's about time the GAA recognised this. Giving club players a regular and meaningful fixture of matches should be the top priority in securing the GAA's future. Otherwise they will find something better to do with their time.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

It's time to say goodbye to the International Rules

With the International Rules this weekend it's worth recalling that on the 19th November last year France played Italy in an international GAA match in Toulouse.  

Perhaps France's overwhelming victory on the day meant a re-match was not sought by the Italians this year.  Nevertheless this match was a sign of things to come. The French are intent on sending a well-prepared team to represent France in the GAA World Games in Ireland next year and were recently unlucky not to beat an Ireland side comprised of Irish players based in France.

While it will take at least a decade before a French team can take on a real Irish team the growth of GAA in France over the last ten years has been impressive and the standard of Gaelic football is improving all the time.

Which begs the question. Why does the GAA want to promote a game that no-one in Ireland plays? It doesn't have any identity and it certainly doesn't have a future.

If the GAA really wants to promote its games internationally then investment should be made in countries like France where there's an appetite for the game. Not some made-up sport that no actually plays.

Around the World in 80 GAA Clubs

Great initiative by Joe to feature some of the GAA clubs from around the world. Although eighty sounds like a large number of clubs it's just over a third of the 315 international clubs affiliated with the GAA. That number is based on figures from the GAA's last annual report 2014 and am sure the number of clubs has grown since then.

1. Berlin GAA Club
2. Helsinki GAA Club
3. Qatar GAA Club

GAA in France

Seems only appropriate that as my last post on this blog a few years ago was about the GAA in France, then my next post should address the same subject.

Recently, the France GAA team played Ireland in Paris, with the Irish team made-up of Irish players living in France from clubs such as Paris Gaels, Toulouse and Rennes.

France are hoping to send a team to the inaugural GAA World Games which will take place in Dublin in 2016 to coincide with the 1916 commemorations.

Based on their performance it looks like they'll be sending a strong team to Ireland next year; it took the last kick of the game from Ireland to level the scores at 3-10 to 3-10.

Enjoy some of the highlights.