Donegal GAA County Secretary, Aideen Gillen
Donegal GAA County Board secretary Aideen Gillen has said there are still major concerns over the availability of county players for club teams during the summer months.
Ms. Gillen said proposals at national level to address the playing of club championships have to be welcomed, but she insisted that clubs are still losing out by not having county players available so often during the year.
She also said the rule that stops minors and U-17s from playing on adult teams was also having a negative effect in Donegal.
Her comments came in her annual report which has been released ahead of County Convention which takes place on Sunday in Donegal town.
The secretary paid tribute to Donegal CCC for its management of club fixtures in 2016.
“It is never easy when the county team is successful,” she said.
“The CCC came forward with a plan early in the year which included extra matched games and they did not deviate very much from this plan.
“The clubs must also be thanked for their co-operation during the year.
“The proposals passed at Congress in Cavan in 2015 in relation to Minor players and U-17s had a detrimental effect on our clubs, especially with our Reserve teams. Our players can not play for our clubs, however, they can play other codes.”
Ms. Gillen also made reference to plans to condense the inter-county season and to reform the All-Ireland football championship with the proposed introduction of a 'super league' for the quarter-final stages.
“(GAA Director General) Pauric Duffy’s new proposal is welcome and worth examining,” she said.
“I agree that club players need a fairer schedule of games. The comparison with last year’s Provincial Championship will have Ulster commencing on May 1st and the final scheduled for June 19th – 8 weekends. The actual 2016 Championship commenced on 15th May and the final took place on 17th July - 10 weekends.
“The fact that he asks for extra time to be played is commendable and this will eventually free up weekends.
“The fear I have is that this proposed shorter championship schedule will impact on the availability of the county panel to playing with their clubs from early February (when the National League commences) until a county exits the All Ireland series (which for us in Donegal for the past six years has been at the earliest, the first weekend of August).
“The Ard Stiurthoir’s proposals address the local championship in having most county players available to their clubs in early August but a major concern remains with the strength of club teams available to play in our all county leagues during the summer.”