The GAA community has come to a general agreement that the fixture situation is entering farcical territory. Teams like the Limerick hurlers are without 10 players because of club commitments with another 18 involved in university competitions. In Waterford, three of the eight 2017 county football championships have still not been completed.
However, there is general disagreement about who is to blame for this situation. Former Kerry Tomás Ó Sé played for his county for 15 years. He has played club football in two counties and writing in his Independent column today, was affirmative in who had the ultimate influence of the situation; the managers.
So you can tinker all you like with the calendar, you can ring-fence your month for club activity, you can warn against player burnout, but none of this is worth a fart in a church if the people at the coal-face, in other words the managers, don't put a player's long-term well-being ahead of their own short-term interest.
O'Se feels the pre-season competitions need to be scrapped for real progress.
I mean what in the name of God are we still doing with the McGrath Cup in Munster, now that only three teams are participating? At least when colleges were involved, you had about a dozen teams involved at one stage. Today? It's a farce. Get rid of it. Let the league be the start of the inter-county season.
This week Kerry Selector Mikey Sheehy spoke to balls.ie about the issue of player welfare and claimed certain complaints are overplayed:
I’m only speaking now from a Kerry point of view. I think the players are enjoying it, they are well looked after and if they don’t like it they can walk away. Nobody is holding a gun to their head to get them to play. I think it’s overstated a little bit.
Of course, fixtures are just one of several issues aired this month. With a new director-general soon to be appointed, it will be interesting to see whether the increasing calls for restructuring are given a fair hearing.
You can read the full piece here.