Trouble ahead for GAA
With the first major announcement by the Club Players’ Association this week calling on the Director General Paraic Duffy to ‘hold his horses’ with his plans for a restructure of the business end of the senior championship, there could be an early stand-off.
Paraic Duffy seems to be standing firm and wants his proposal to be put before Congress at the end of February.
The newly formed body representing the club players doesn’t have any official standing as of yet, but it's pushing for formal recognition, also at this year’s Congress.
In the meantime, the Club Players’ Association, want the Director General to postpone putting his proposals on the table. They want to have an input into any changes that are being proposed, putting forward the views of the club player. They also argue that if their arguments are not included and they are passed, then it would be a number of years before they could be changed again.
County Boards all over the country should have a busy Co. Committee meeting in February, where they will decide what to support at Congress. It seems likely that the application for recognition for the CPA will be successful.
The discussion around Paraic Duffy’s proposals (which would see the introduction of a round-robin format for the last eight in the football championship, extra-time being played instead of replays and both All-Ireland finals being played before the end of August), are likely to have more intense discussion and division.
Will the call from the Club Players’ Association to have an input into the proposals before they are sent to Congress have an influence? You would think that they should, but are club players sufficiently involved with their own clubs to influence how each club delegate will vote at Co. Committee level?
But whatever happens, it looks as if the new club body want to be heard at the top level.
Speaking to an old hand this week, John Travers of Aodh Ruadh (you can read special feature on him elsewhere in this paper), feels that the GAA made a mistake when the Gaelic Players’ Association was formed. He feels that the GAA could have avoided what is happening if they had been pro-active and allowed just one body to look after all players, county and club.
He may have a point.
With just over a week to go to the start of the Rugby Six Nations, the question is, can Ireland replicate what happened in November, when they had wins over New Zealand and Australia?
There is no doubt that head coach, Joe Schmidt, is one of the best (if not the best) head coach Ireland has ever had. The 2017 Six Nations provides Ireland with their perennial great opportunity - they have the two big guns, France and England, at home in the Aviva.
There is just one unknown which they face - injuries. That was probably the reason they didn’t do the double over New Zealand in November.
The health of Jonathan Sexton is an issue at the moment. It seems that he doesn’t finish any game nowadays, and sometimes with a new injury every time. He is a vital player, but there is a huge question mark over him.
The Six Nations will not just be about the two big home games. Competition for places on the Lions tour to New Zealand will ensure (if that were necessary) that all games will be competitive, starting with the first game away to Scotland at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh on Saturday week, 4th February.
The final round of games takes place on Saturday, 18th March with Ireland at home to England in the Aviva Stadium.
FOOTNOTE: Good to hear that Michael ‘Jack’ O’Donnell is back home after a recent ‘scare’. Playing Kerry at home on Sunday week in Letterkenny would be a much more difficult proposition without Michael on the sideline, pointing his camera at anything that moves!