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GAA managers seek compensation for players taking time off work for week night games

Jim Gavin and Jim McGuinness have spoken out as the GAA gets set to hold a championship game on a Friday night.

Dublin manager Jim Gavin
Dublin manager Jim Gavin
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

TWO LEADING GAA managers have called for inter-county players to be compensated financially if they take time off work to prepare for a championship match that is fixed for a week night.

But GAA President Liam O’Neill has ruled out that action being taken.

The GAA are set to hold a senior inter-county championship game on a Friday night for the first time on June 28th when Carlow meet Laois in Dr Cullen Park in the All-Ireland football qualifiers.

Yet the decision has drawn criticism from players in both the participating counties.

While Dublin manager Jim Gavin and his Donegal counterpart Jim McGuinness both yesterday insisted that players should be not be expected to do a full day’s work before playing a championship game.

And both Gavin and McGuinness believe that in such a situation that compensation would be necessary for the players involved.

Here’s the thoughts of Jim Gavin:

“It’s unacceptable to expect a guy to do a full day’s work and try to perform for his county a couple of hours later in a championship game where so much is expected of them.

“Monday to Friday would be considered a working week and if you are expecting players to play senior inter-county during the working week, I think they need to be compensated. It’s just compensate for loss of earnings.

“I don’t think it’s good enough for people to say that players can work until five or half-five and get on a bus and travel to a venue. In Dublin you’ve got the traffic issues to deal with and the country you’ve got distances issues to deal with.

“The GAA has compensated players who travelled to Australia to represent the country in the Compromise Rules, so it’s no different in this case. And if people don’t like it, then just play the games as they normally are on Saturday and Sunday.

“I don’t think you can impose it on particular teams but certainly I think it’s a good initiative. Looking at the qualifier draw, there’d be some fantastic games where teams are close by, there’d be a great championship atmosphere at the games.”

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Donegal manager and Celtic performance consultant Jim McGuinness
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

And here’s what Jim McGuinness thinks of the initiative.

“It’s a bit sexy (Friday night games). You can go for a few weekend drinks and go to the games. I can see that logic in it but the centre of the process are the players.

“When we were playing our U21 games, all our lads were taking a half day off college or work and that was an 8 o’clock throw in. That was just at U21 level.

“So I think anybody playing in that game (Laois v Carlow) won’t be working that day and for very simple reasons, not just the physical side of things.

“I know our players just love to get away with the group because they are in that environment where everybody is on the same wavelength. Even if you are at home, you are being asked ‘are you feeling alright?’ or ‘Go for your own point if you get the chance’.

“These are the conversations that go on within family homes. Now imagine if you multiply that out to a workplace – ‘Jesus you better be ready for this tonight’.

“They are not getting paid to play, they are getting paid for the time off work. There is a difference, that’s the reality. You can’t expect anybody to take a day off work without pay or a sick day to play a game of football, not in this climate anyway.”

GAA President Liam O’Neill
Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

But Liam O’Neill has defended the decision.

“That (compensation) won’t happen. The rules are the rules. I couldn’t stand here as President and say I’m willing to bend a rule.

“We’ve spoken to the GPA within the last 24 hours. The game is going ahead. The players are happy enough to play. This has been talked about for some time. We’re presented with that opportunity now, to see how a Friday night fixture will work.

“I’m quite proud of the fact the committee was brave enough to take the chance. I would rather learn by making mistakes trying something new than doing nothing. I can understand any difficulties but I think you will find that when all the rhetoric is over that this will work out easier than it might first appear.

“Nobody wants to discommode anyone. We want our games to get exposure, to get a platform which players can enjoy. It is important for our supporters that they get a chance to try out something different.”

Poll: Would you prefer to see more weeknight games in the GAA?

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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