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.