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Ryan Byrne/INPHO CPA chairperson Micheál Briody (file pic).
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'Free the month of April': CPA calls for change and share plans to end fixture problems
The Club Players Association proposes that the GAA’s Central Council implement ‘three innovative changes’.

Emma Duffy reports from Abbotstown

THE CLUB PLAYERS Association (CPA) today proposed a national fixtures plan, in an attempt to balance the congested club and county fixtures calendar.

Chaired by Micheál Briody, the CPA is calling on the GAA’s Central Council to make ‘three innovative changes,’ in their lobby for change to improve the plight of the club player.

Firstly, the Association outlined that the entire month of April should be a ‘club-only month’, with no inter-county games, challenges or training.

The other two points were that the All-Ireland club championships must be played in the one calendar year, and that the month of December must be free for all club and county players for ‘necessary downtime and recovery’.

The main plan which was presented — Plan Green – proposes replacing the National hurling and football leagues with provincial groups, a tiered All-Ireland championship and the club season running off over a single calendar year.

The year would begin with 13 weeks of the inter-county season, over which the provincial groups would be played. Then, inter-county competitions would break completely for the month of April and it would be a ‘completely free club month’.

Inter-county action would return in May for a 16-week block. The CPA proposes that the All-Ireland hurling and football finals should be played in August, with club overlapping again and then running until the end of November.

They suggest that the club All-Ireland finals then be played the last week of November, and that December should be free of all club and county hurling and football.

The changes that the CPA look to implement do not require a motion to go to Congress. They can be routed through Central Council, and if agreed there, the onus is on Croke Park to schedule them accordingly.

At the minute, the CPA is at a ‘standstill’ with Croke Park. They have met numerous times in the past but no further meetings are scheduled.

“We’re basically putting the challenge to them,” Briody told the press conference at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown.

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“Our challenge today to others is to take up the gauntlet and bring this to Special Congress to drive the change that is needed.

“This shows what is possible. A national fixtures plan that addresses the main priorities and sticking points.

“By introducing certainty to fixture calendars we will surely reduce the alarming dropout rates of the GAA and in the process, ensure that the next generation of club players to play inter-county competitions are the very best that are available.”

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