GAA

CPA Chairman Warns Of 'Strike Action' If Scenario Facing Wicklow Winners Continues

CPA Chairman Warns Of 'Strike Action' If Scenario Facing Wicklow Winners Continues

After farcical scheduling left the Wicklow senior football champions contest their provincial opener less than 24 hours after winning a county final, the chairman of the Club Players Association has stressed the need for change before it is "too late."

Yesterday afternoon, St. Patrick's overcame Rathnew in a pulsating county final replay in Aughrim. Winning by a scoreline of 0-10 to 0-8 late on, Pat's then faced the daunting task of playing Offaly's Rhode this afternoon.

Although there was no guarantee of progress for the Wicklow champions irrespective of when they played, it was no great surprise when this rigorous scheduled resulted in a 2-16 to 1-9 win for the Offaly representatives.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio's Sunday Sport, Micheál Briody, chairman of the CPA, described the scenario as "unacceptable."

"I'm not an expert in sports science, but you have healthy, professional soccer players who compete in a less physically demanding sport with no real contact who are at higher risk with a Saturday to Tuesday turnaround compared to a Saturday to Wednesday turnaround.

"So there's inadequate recovery [for St Patrick's] there which means playing with damaged muscles, decreased energy, decreased coordination, guaranteed injury. It's not acceptable in this day and age."

Considering the changes that had been made to accommodate the club players, Brody surmised; "The new moves in 2018 have been worse for the club player than in previous years."

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"We've had one of the best summers weather-wise but in the months of May, June, July there have been no meaningful club games played in that period.

"April won't work when you have different start dates for the championship. If you're starting earlier in the inter-county championship in May, it's unfair to ask managers to release the players for the club for that when other counties aren't starting until the end of May or early June.

"So by and large it's been unsuccessful. Bringing the All-Ireland finals forward a few weeks has helped somewhat, that has been a progressive change, but there needs to be more done.

"The GAA has the ability to change things quickly. We saw that in Newbridge and we saw that in the Liam Miller case. If there's a will, it can be changed. And that will, that leadership, needs to come from the top.

"Club players are suffering in most counties around Ireland. They're not getting a certain list of fixtures that they can plan their lives around. In 2018 that is completely unacceptable."

Tellingly, Briody described what kind of action the CPA will take if their concerns continue to go unheard in such scenarios.

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"Last Monday there was a motion passed at Roscommon county board committee. It was that Central Council establish a select committee to conduct an overall review of the national games programme. That was passed unanimously in Roscommon so that will have to be considered at the next Central Council meeting.

"The club players of Roscommon have brought this because they're dissatisfied. We'll be asking every club player to contact their county board delegate to contact the Central Council representative and support what 100% of the playing population in the country are looking for.

"Coordinating an all-out strike is nigh-on impossible at club level, but there are many forms of strike and dissent and at the end of the day we all want what is best for the GAA. What we are asking for is not unreasonable. We have no agenda other than to fix the fixtures.

"We are not doing this for individual progression. We are doing it for the betterment of the GAA and for the games going forward. I think that's a fair request, and if it's not delivered soon it will be delivered at some stage. Hopefully that won't be too late."

With this Wicklow example a potential straw that may break the camel's back, the GAA will undoubtedly be keen to avoid any such outcome.

See Also: Henry Shefflin Pays Touching Tribute To Young Ballyhale Man Tragically Lost

Arthur James O'Dea

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