The secretary of the Competition Controls’ Committee has warned of “a potential crisis” in 2014 in regards the staging of the club championships.
Sean McGinley, in his report for annual convention, which will take place at the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny on Sunday, December 15, referenced the fact the senior and intermediate football championships are not due to start until after Donegal’s involvement before the All-Ireland and the International Rules Series, which is due to take place in Australia.
Michael Murphy was forced to captain Ireland in the First Test win over the Australians in Cavan in October less than 24 hours after leading his club Glenswilly to a second RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC title win over Killybegs in Ballybofey.
McGinley said: “If we put off our championships each year until the county team is out of the All-Ireland series, is that not saying that club football is not important and county football is more important?
Remember that 98 per cent of our players play club football/hurling only.
“Given the Test Series in Australia in 2014 we may face a potential crisis in completing our county finals in October. With the advent of the back door for county teams, club activity is forced to the periphery of our calendar.
“It’s time we brought serious change to our inter-county model and free up time for 98 per cent of our players. The continued suffocation of club standards will eventually reflect on our county standards.”
In September, the clubs of Donegal by 20 votes to six voted in favour of shelving the senior and intermediate championships until after Jim McGuinness’s team conclude their participation in the Ulster and All-Ireland championships.
The Donegal manager had initially requested a round or two of the club championships be completed before his side undertake their Ulster championship opener – away to Derry, which is provisionally down for Sunday, May 25 – but the clubs preferred to contest the championship after Donegal’s completion.
Following Donegal’s decision to defer the commencement of the club championship, representatives of the county board were asked to attend a meeting in Croke Park to explain the decision, following a letter of concern, sent to the Management Committee by the Medical, Scientific and Welfare sub committee.
The Donegal County Board have not received any correspondence following that meeting at GAA headquarters on November 15.
In 2012, after Donegal won the All-Ireland for the second time, the senior club championship first round first legs were played on September 29-30, the weekend following the 2-11 to 0-13 win over Mayo, with the compressed competition taking place in sex weeks before the final on November 4.
Karl Lacey, who won GAA/GPA Football of the Year for his part in helping Donegal clinch the Sam Maguire, was forced off for his club Four Masters in their senior championship semi-final against Naomh Conaill - his sixth outing, including one of which that went to extra-time, in just 22 days. Lacey’s hip injury, coupled with minor cartilage surgery, hampered his 2013 season for club and county.
“The CCC cannot plan the championship until Donegal are knocked out of the All-Ireland series,” McGinley added. “Club forum in January heard an impassioned plea from a delegate to never again repeat the championship postponement and schedule of 2012 and this opinion was supported b the majority of delegates at the forum.”