All-Ireland winning manager, Brian McEniff, has criticised the weekend decision by the GAA to introduce the “Super 8” All-Ireland senior football championship from next year.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat, McEniff, who guided Donegal to an All-Ireland championship in 1992, said the Gaelic Players’ Association had “slept in” and should have done more to oppose the proposals.
McEniff, who is chairman of his local club in Bundoran, said he was not in favour of the proposals to remove the All-Ireland quarter-finals and replace them with two round-robin groups of four teams.
“I’m a traditionalist and I would much prefer to see the All-Ireland finals remain where they are in September. We have to be honest here, by taking them out of September we are opening up a full month of our calendar to other sports. I have no issue with those sports, but as someone involved in the GAA, I want to see young players encouraged to play gaelic games, and I’m not convinced this decision will help this.”
A columnist with the Donegal Democrat, McEniff said he was surprised that the GPA hadn’t fought the proposals in a stronger way. “I think to be honest they slept in on this one; it’s not as if it wasn’t well enough flagged up by Paraic Duffy, Director General of the GAA.”
He said Mr Duffy had done a very good job in “selling” the proposal to the county boards and he accepted that while the proposals would result in a financial windfall for the GAA, he worried at the impact it would have on club football. “It’s not all about finances,” he said.
“To be fair to Paraic Duffy I understand the desire for experimentation and it is no harm to try new things, but I am concerned about this move, perhaps had it been for two years rather than three, it might have sat easier with me, a three year trial period is a year too long for me.
“I’m chairman of my local club (Realt na Mara, Bundoran) and my worry is that we will have club players waiting for most of the summer to play games,” he added.
Commenting on the more recently formed Club Players’ Association (CPA), Mr McEniff said he felt they should adopt a different approach. “I thought they came across as a bit ‘bolshie’. I think they should realise that 97% of the players in the GAA are club players, so in my book the CPA are pushing an open door and maybe they should take a slightly different approach.”