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'If the CPA have pulled out, that shows that we’re still at loggerheads'

Ballygunner’s Shane O’Sullivan and Corofin’s Kieran Fitzgerald have their say on the current fixtures calendar.

CPA executive member Liam Griffin.
CPA executive member Liam Griffin.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

THE CLUB PLAYERS Association’s decision to withdraw from the GAA’s Fixtures Calendar Review Task Force hints that all is not well with the body whose work is due to be completed later this month.

The CPA held a press conference yesterday in Dublin and outlined their unhappiness at the three plans which are expected to be put forward by the task force.

Ultimately, the refusal to grant a CPA request for a vote to be taken at a meeting last week on their own proposals convinced the club players’ body to announce their withdrawal.

With 25,000 club players represented, the CPA have long called for a blank canvass approach to the GAA calendar. Their unwillingness to sign off on the proposals – which have already been circulated – indicate the changes may not adequately fix the current club situation. 

“I thought they (the CPA) had ideas about it but now obviously if they’ve pulled out, that shows that we’re still at loggerheads,” says Ballygunner defender Shane O’Sullivan. 

O’Sullivan has strong opinions on the plight of the club player, having retired from Waterford duty at the end of 2016.

His club campaigns with Ballygunner have run from one year to another as the club looks to reach the last four of the All-Ireland series for the second successive campaign.

“I do have thoughts on it, I’ll probably have to water them down for the media,” he begins. 

“I think there’s a massive challenge there for the GAA. We’re going to this level, not professional but the standards in sport are going so high now. The attention on players is going so high now on an inter-county level and then there’s a gap.

“You have to give the inter-county player every opportunity possible to excel because that’s what we’ve always done as a sport. 

“The gap then is to the club and the club is the cornerstone of the GAA and that’s what really matters. In short, there should 100% be a dedicated fixture list for club, county, start of the year, done.

“That’s 100%. Because what we’re doing is we’re losing the transitional player from maybe 17 to 20. They might get upset or annoyed and go to America for a summer, which is great for one summer, they learn and experience things.

aib-gaa-provincial-finals-media-day Shane O'Sullivan was speaking ahead of the AIB GAA Munster senior hurling club championship final. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

“But over time they might filter away from the GAA because of that single thing. I don’t think it’s right at any level that players can’t actually focus on a period of time when they want to perform to their best. They don’t really have a dedicated fixture time.

“From my perspective, it’s common sense but the challenge is how do you fit that in a calendar? So it’s a big challenge.”

Corofin veteran Kieran Fitzgerald always has his views. He believes the club and county seasons should be split entirely, which is not expected to be one of the proposals to be brought forward to the GAA’s Management Committee and Central Council.

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“It’s tough, it is tough for the club that is chucking along, it’s tough for the smaller clubs with numbers and things like that. We’re fortunate, numbers are good, but that’s not every club. 

“Without thinking about it too much, I think there has to be separation between inter-county and club where you stop, have a few weeks break, into your club.

“Whether it’s February to July, I’m probably talking rubbish now, but February to July and then from August to whenever, if that’s possible. I think it’s the way to go.

“During the summer there, you have lads who can go to America for two months and not miss a game, at the height of the summer when you want to be playing football. I know July is in the summertime but even in August or September, the weather is still good, you can play nice football but going out with this is not great.

“I do think there has to be a separation, whether that’s possible or not, I haven’t thought about it too much but that’s what I would be thinking.” 

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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