Football Review Committee hits out at Donegal board

Football Review Committee hits out at Donegal board
Eugene McGee

The GAA's Football Review Committee (FRC) has hit out at Donegal for deciding not to start its Senior and Intermediate Club Championships before the exit of its senior county team from the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in 2014.

FRC chairman Eugene McGee says it is a situation which cannot become widespread in other counties.

"This is a very dangerous tendency and I know well the top people in the GAA are very concerned about it, because it was an amazing decision to take that the clubs of Donegal apparently agreed that their players would play no (club) Championship football for about possibly five months in the middle of the summer," he said.

"If that were to spread around it would destroy club football."

McGee says the GAA has to cater for the bulk of its players.

"People forget that 98% of all footballers are only club footballers, they are not going to be county players.

"Most of them are as ambitious and motivated and they train as hard (as county players). They travel all over the country from their workplaces to train from their club. They don't look for expenses or anything else.

"They are the real heroes and they have been treated abysmally by being left three, four and five months. They can't plan a holiday, they can't plan a wedding even - they can do nothing! It's a ridiculous situation for a top class organisation like the GAA."

The Football Review Committee today launched a wide-ranging report at Croke Park, outlining a number of proposals to streamline Gaelic Football.

The Committee feel that a tightening up of fixtures for club players is something that really needs to be addressed.

"What we are proposing is that the GAA will insist that there are three games played between say May and July, that's not asking a lot...hopefully it is more," explained Magee.

"That would please and satisfy most players I think. That can be done in different ways, but it is up to the GAA. We are only making the proposal the GAA have to implement these things. Probably we'll have to wait and see.

"County managers have a big say in this. A lot of them seem to take ownership of players. They don't just train them, they have total ownership of them. They decide their social habits, their dietary habits and all of that sort of stuff. That's what is doing the damage.

"Only some county managers are far, far too dogmatic when they play club matches. That shouldn't be their decision at all, that should be between the county executive and the CCCC and the manager at the start of the year.

"There should be a bit of give and take from both sides. It's ridiculous. Even in Dublin in 2013 they played the first round I think in April and they didn't play the next round until October.

"I know myself from my journalism that a lot of club footballers would have emailed me as if I was an Ombudsman, saying:, 'this is ridiculous - they could have easily played a round before the Leinster Championship, because there was a gap of two or three weeks'.

"These are the things that need to be stopped.

"Club football is the bread and butter of football, and in rural Ireland and all over Ireland, the local club is the predominant group in the whole of that parish.

"The people want to see the matches played. They are discussing it when they are not played and the GAA has to take a hard stand on this and the county team will get plenty of time to train and plenty of time to get ready for matches."

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