I have always had good time for Kieran McGeeney. I only played against him a number of times but watching and observing his career over the years both as a player and then as a manager he has always had a certain dignity and aura about him.
As a player he was driven; he never gave or accepted anything less than a 100 percent. He was a born leader both on and off the field as a player and without his influence Armagh would have struggled to win their All-Ireland in 2000.
Since he took over the reins in Kildare they have steadily improved without ever really having the success that everyone would have thought they might achieve with McGeeney at the helm. Last week the clubs in Kildare decided they had had enough and decided to end his spell as manager. It came has a huge surprise to all as it seemed he had full backing from the County Executive and more importantly from the players who backed him to the hilt.
But the clubs had had enough; they were fed up with having very little football during the summer months and they were unhappy at having to play the games that they where allowed to play without their county players.
It led to club players drifting away and going to other sports or just packing it up altogether. What was surprising is that the County Executive could have returned McGeeney to the post without ever going to the clubs because of the rules but they opened the floor to the clubs and they made their point.
Since the meeting the Kildare players have taken to social media and radio and expressed they dissatisfaction both at the way the meeting was handled and at the way the clubs voted. There is even talk now that they want the decision reversed and McGeeney reinstated right away.
I have no problem with the players having their opinion or having the right to express that opinion in public but let’s be clear here; where does the power within the Association suppose to be? Are we not told by successive Presidents that the club is the heart of the Association and nothing or no one should take precedence before them.
The sad reality about this whole affair is that it is the same story in most every other county in the country but the clubs in Kildare seem to be the only crowd to say enough is enough. They’re fed up with their own players being treated like second class citizens in an Association where every club member is supposed to be equal.
By the way I’m being a bit sarcastic with that remark.
Last weekend club delegates from all around the county got to meet Jim McGuinness and discuss the plans for fixtures for 2014.From what I gather from a number of people at the meeting it was not much of a discussion but more of what the county team management want from their end and not what is best for the club or indeed club players.
The county management expressed an opinion that the club championship first round should be played in April of next year and the rest of the championship be run off when Donegal either win or go out of the championship. Of course this sounds good in theory but what happens to a club that goes out of the championship in April. They will find it difficult to keep their players interested in playing league games; training goes out the window and relegation to a lower division is nearly guaranteed.
It will not work and the clubs in Donegal are bordering on having just about enough. At the start of every year clubs are asked to pay a levy to the county board in order to keep the Association running. On average clubs are asked for over £11,000 a year between levies, insurance and registration and for that they expect something in return, like a bit of fair play.
In fairness to Jim McGuinness and Kieran McGeeney they have a job to do and they will do what it takes to get their players the best preparation they can. Their concern is not with clubs or club players; it’s with doing the best they can with their players and for the county.
I have no doubt that there is a happy medium but surely we elect administrators to do exactly that; they should not be asking what each individual wants or what might keep one side happy above the other; it’s the tail wagging the dog scenario. We elect people to do the job for the greater good of all those involved not just the chosen few.
It was put to me a few days ago: ‘which side are you on, it seems if you want the clubs to decide on fixtures; this in turn means that you’re for Jim stepping down.’
I, like everyone else, hope Jim remains in the job and brings us more success but this is not one or the other. Without clubs doing the work they do at underage and instilling the skill and desire within the youngsters at the start of their careers there would be no county teams. If it weren’t for the work done by clubs to provide the best of facilities where would our county teams train and if it weren’t for the clubs where would the money to run our county teams come from.
As I said there has to be a happy medium.
It can only be achieved if all the parties involved sit down together and talk, the county management , the county board, the club delegates but also the club players who deserve a place at the table as without them there would be nothing at all.