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Call for August Bank Holiday All-Ireland final and Donegal's 'frank' Super 8 meeting

Donegal captain Michael Murphy on the problems that still exist after last weekend’s GAA Congress.

Donegal's 2012 All-Ireland winning captain Michael Murphy.
Donegal's 2012 All-Ireland winning captain Michael Murphy.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

MICHAEL MURPHY BELIEVES playing the All-Ireland football final on the August Bank Holiday weekend would be a fairer solution to the club fixtures crisis and has described last weekend’s Congress as ‘very disheartening’ for not addressing that issue.

The Donegal captain also revealed that their squad were properly consulted before the vote on the new ‘Super 8′ proposal and outlined the frank meeting that the squad held two weeks before a training session to discuss their views.

“It’s just very disheartening to see that the crux of the whole problem for all players, both club and county, hasn’t been addressed – that’s the fixtures,” says Murphy.

“We’re really not addressing the problem, we’re just pushing it further down the line. The All-Ireland final coming forward three weeks (helps).

“If we can play National League games every week or every two weeks, there’s no reason why we can’t play championship games the same and play the All-Ireland final on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

“If you were to play your All-Ireland final on the August bank holiday weekend, that means the vast majority of the counties – barring the two that are in it – are going to be free from around the middle of July.

“It gives you most of July, August, September to get stuck in to play for your club. The clubs would know that, you would know it, everybody would know it – it would just be a no-brainer.

“We could then get playing with our clubs which we are mad to do. I do believe speaking to the Tyrone players and speaking to our own players that they would be hungry for that too.

“The Super 8 concept, I don’t think it’s a bad idea but to play the National League, to play the provincial championship, to play the Super 8 and to still try and play for the club – to try and do all those things, I just don’t see it happening.

“Either the provincial championship or the National League is going to have to give way probably.

“Our opinions were asked. We discussed it as a group of players – the whole lot of us discussed it there two weeks ago.

Donegal players take to the field The Donegal players taking to the field before their recent league game against Kerry. Source: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

“We had a good frank conversation about it in a meeting before training. It went on quite a while because everybody does have a good, strong opinion on it.

“It’s not a case of one or two people spoke about it and the rest put their heads down and nodded along.”

There has been chaotic scenarios in Donegal in recent seasons in trying to finish their club championships.

Donegal reached the All-Ireland final in 2012 and 2014 with the county senior deciders subsequently taking place both years on the first weekend of November.

Murphy outlined the frustration at not being able to give proper time to his club.

Michael Murphy celebrates at the final whistle Michael Murphy celebrates Glenswilly's victory in last year's Donegal county senior football final. Source: Kieran Murray/INPHO

“That’s the way it’s going to be, probably every year until we try to do something about it.

“At the very least in that scenario, you know it’s [club championship] is going to be then. Sometimes for some places, you don’t know when the hell it’s going to be.

“It’s just at the moment, the way the inter-county fixtures, especially in the championship, it is difficult to free yourself up to get playing with your club.

“People point that it’s down to the pressure coming from inter-county managers, it’s not down to that.

“It’s down to you wanting to be physically well able and unfortunately then when you don’t play, your club may not want to play as much too.

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AIB's The Toughest Trade - Shane Williams and Michael Murphy Donegal footballer Michael Murphy Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

“The players do genuinely want something done to this fixture list. So it’s disappointing that nothing has been done.

“We need to put a fixture plan in place. We speak about it all the time and we’re going to continue to speak about it.

“We have to do something about the fixtures in order to get a master fixture list to really know what you’re doing.”


Michael Murphy will tomorrow night appear on The Toughest Trade on RTÉ 2 tomorrow at 9.30pm.

The Donegal footballer travelled to France to team up with Clermont Auvergne while Welsh rugby great Shane Williams played for Glenswilly.


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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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