Is extra 'Star Games' the answer to fixture crux?

Donegal GAA may finally have cracked the long running problem of playing club football at the height of the summer and in the middle of the inter-county championship season.

This follows a decision of the Donegal County Committee at their monthly meeting on Monday night.

At the meeting, the committee which is made up of the county’s 40 clubs and executive, gave the thumbs up to an Ardara proposal to increase the number of ‘Star Games’ from four to six.

‘Star Games’ are games where clubs with county players are paired against each other for league games in the fixture schedule.

Donegal Competitions Control Committee secretary, Declan Martin, is confident that the two extra games will go a long way to satisfy the needs of  club footballers. Club footballers make up well over 90% of the county’s football playing population.  

“The two extra ‘Star’ games will make a big difference,” Declan Martin told the Democrat.

“It will mean, all going well, that we will be in a position to guarantee clubs at least two games in June, after the June 12th championship game with either Fermanagh or Antrim, two games in July and two in early August,” added the the CCC secretary.

“The only thing that would change that is if we (county senior team) were to qualify for the latter stages of the National League, say the semi-final and the final.

“That would force us to use up one of the ‘Star’ Games’, something which we would be very reluctant to do but we would have to do to give a continuity of games.

“The ideal situation would be to hold  all the ‘Star Games’ until the June, July and August period. That is the period which has been the problem down the years.”

The difficulty with ‘Star Games’ is matching teams with equal number of players and of similar standards.

This is accepted by the CCC secretary, who also points out that it may be even a bigger problem in the season ahead with a number of players in Rory Gallagher’s new look squad from the lower divisions.

However, the CCC insists that last year they matched teams as best they could and that they would again strive this season to pair teams off as best they can.

“It is not easy and there is no point in saying otherwise. You have some clubs with say one and other clubs with, three, four and maybe even more as is the case with St Eunan’s this year.

“You also have the situation where clubs have, say one or two players on the team and then others might have no one on the team but a number in the squad.”

The CCC secretary accepts it will not be all plain sailing and it is not the panacea to all the problems around the issue. But he does feel it is an improvement and will work because  the proposal for the extra ‘Star Games’ has come from the clubs.

“The proposal was put forward by Ardara and it got the backing of the majority of the clubs and there is no reason why it will not work," said Martin.

The county committee also approved a new C football championship for club Third teams at Monday night’s meeting.