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'We trained all year to play three Championship games - which is ridiculous'

GAA Central Council meets on Saturday to discuss the Football Review Committee’s recommendations.

Heslin and Westmeath could be out of the championship on Sautrday.
Heslin and Westmeath could be out of the championship on Sautrday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

LAST SUMMER HE played three Championship games; this year John Heslin may well only play two.

“What’s the point?” he asks.

Last weekend Fermanagh’s 2014 season ended, a day before Kerry had even kicked a ball.

On Saturday Westmeath face Cavan in their own do-or-die first round qualifier. If they can’t muster a win, Heslin’s inter-county season will be over before the start of July.

“There has to be a change,” explains the 22-year-old. “I was talking to one of the Westmeath selectors about it and he laughed and said ‘maybe you’ll be a lad to change that in the next couple of years’.

But I hope something happens before the next couple of years because who knows where I’ll be in the next couple of years? Who knows where anyone will be in the next couple of years?

The GAA’s Central Council will meet this weekend to consider the recommendations from Part Two of the Football Review Committee’s report which deals with the fixture calendar and competition structures.

Among the FRC proposals is a restructuring of the Championship so that each province will begin with eight teams. Based on their league position, teams would play off in a preliminary round with the losers shifting to other provinces to even out the numbers.

It’s one possible solution to frustration at a fixture list which Heslin feels is not only leading to player burnout, but sees footballers’ year-long efforts wasted after less than a handful of games.

Source: eamondon/SoundCloud

During my study week in college I couldn’t help but think about how the GAA could improve their whole championship base. Last year we trained all year to play three championship games – which is ridiculous in my opinion.


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John Heslin goes off injured Heslin goes off injured during the league. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A former Irish youth international soccer player, AFL rookie, Westmeath hurler and, since the age of 18, a senior footballer for his county, Heslin has a new championship template in mind.

“I’d like to see can they pull it all back and make it a whole league base thing where you play every weekend or every second weekend between March and June or July. You could have three divisions of 10 or 11 teams and play it off, and there you have your defined season, your inter county season.”

John Heslin Playing for Leinster earlier this year. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“You can throw in a cup competition, like the FA Cup in soccer, you can look at a number of sports. The AFL have their top 8 teams go into a grand final and it brings the interest levels up.

“But through all that you also have the Sigerson Cup fixed at the early part of the college year which would be October or November, and the off-season for the inter county lads. Then your club is thrown in there as well, but that’s for the hierarchy to look at.”

Heslin heads the below documentary; ‘The adverse effect of the GAA fixture schedule’ (Produced by @TomasORuanaidh and @DonoghueEamon). 

Along with Cavan’s Killian Clarke, Ballymun Kickhams’ selector Ken Robinson, and Connacht rugby players Shane Leyden and Danny Qualter – Heslin discusses “the professional demands of our amateur association.”

Source: TacklerGAA/SoundCloud via https://twitter.com/TomasORuanaidh https://twitter.com/DonoghueEamon

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