Time to stand up for the club player

How is it that we have to return to the topic of club fixtures every year in this county. In the last 20 years it has caused nothing but grief for everyone concerned yet in all of that time no one ever thought to put in place a plan that would suit all the parties that are involved.

How is it that we have to return to the topic of club fixtures every year in this county. In the last 20 years it has caused nothing but grief for everyone concerned yet in all of that time no one ever thought to put in place a plan that would suit all the parties that are involved.

How is it in other counties that they can set out a plan at the start of the year and bar the county team getting to the All-Ireland final, that plan not be altered.

From what I gather this year the officers that were in charge of setting out the fixtures went to the county management and asked them their preferred dates for the club championship. They did so giving last weekend as the suitable date, two weeks before the Ulster final.

Forgive me but maybe I am missing something here, but did no one at county board level raise this issue and if so why wasn’t it dealt with?

No manager in his right mind was going to allow any of his squad play in club championship a fortnight before the provincial final. Did no one expect us to get there?

I am sure Jim McGuinness had it in his plans to get there and did the members of the fixtures committee believe that the manager would not look for the championship off?

Because we live in a culture where we have to find someone to blame for every thing that goes wrong, a lot of fingers have been pointed at both the county team management and the fixtures chairperson and secretary for the cock up but I think they can be let of the hook on this one.

Yes Jim did go and ask for the games to be called off, just like every other right minded manager would do and as far as I see it he is only looking after the best interests of his players and doing his job.

By all accounts the fixtures committee were extremely reluctant to call off any games as they had sought the plan at the start of the year and wanted every side to stick to that agreement. So I wouldn’t be for getting on their back as they have run the leagues off fairly good this year bar a few minor hiccups and there’s is not a easy job.

What has surprised me is that every year we hear from clubs who are angry at games being called off for one thing or another; club monthly meeting will discuss their dismay at the way club players are being treated. Yet when they have to go to county committee meetings and stand up for those very same players, silence.

At the start of every year club managers start training usually around January; then they get the championship draw, then the fixture list will come out, training programmes, holidays and even weddings are fixed around the dates of the club championship.

Players are asked to give a huge commitment for the guts of ten months; there will be no holiday or vast amounts of gear; they will not be supplied with football boots or tickets for championship matches; no travelling expenses, yet they will take their own transport to training and to games for the love of their club.

How do we expect to keep these young men interested in our games if we repeatedly call off games in the summer months? They will either move to other codes or just stop playing altogether. Already this week a good number of club players have let their clubs know they are heading to the US for the summer as they were not hanging around.

While it’s easy to play the blame game and throw it on one side or another, I believe for far too long the clubs, especially club delegates who go to county committee, have let this problem go continue. Someone is going to have to stand up and say stop, put a proper plan in place and our county board delegates are going to have to be strong enough to stand up to those who try and change it.