By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Jim Gavin has backed the proposal to bring the All-Ireland finals forward by a week and to complete the club championships within the calendar year.
The Dublin manager agrees with Joe Brolly that the clubs should be catered for better than they are at present but dismisses the outspoken Derry man’s claim that county players are little more than “indentured slaves”.
Brolly, forgetting that inter-county involvement is voluntary, said that the time required to participate at the highest level now precluded any career development.
But Gavin pointed to his own squad for an example of the level of qualifications that players can build up despite the demands of playing for Dublin.
“I understand Joe’s sentiments that in terms of Gaelic games, our bedrock is the clubs and I would fully support any initiatives that Croke Park and the GAA leadership have in terms of opening up our fixture list to more club games and that more inter-county players are available for club games.
“Our founding members back in 1884, that was part of their remit, to promote the games, that was their vision. So I fully understand where Joe is coming from.
“But in terms of player development I’ve got accountants in the squad, stock brokers, teachers, quantity surveyors, I’ve a whole host of different professions. We encourage CPD, continual personal development, we encourage education and the guys’ academics.
“We always say to them to get their exams first and foremost. We have a culture of making sure players are given enablers to help themselves professionally develop.
“He had some comments in terms of the commitments they have; we are all volunteers. I go back to my day job (as an aeronautical officer/flight operations inspector) in the morning, and it’s my job as a manager to support the players in that and to give them whatever time they need to fulfil their professional life.”
Reasserting his belief that clubs should be given a fairer deal within the scheduling programme, Gavin maintained that the proposal to conclude club championships within the calendar year, while bringing the inter-county All-Irelands forward a week, was a good way of providing clubs with more games.
“I think everything should finish up in the one calendar year. I think that’s just being fair to the clubs. I don’t see why they should suffer because our inter-county season prohibits them from playing games. I think there is momentum there.”
Meanwhile, Gavin revealed the likes of Bernard Brogan, Philly McMahon and Paddy Andrews were involved with their own clubs and would be available for selection for Sunday’s League opener away.
“We’ve got a number of players coming now. Bernard was playing with his club (Sunday) morning, Philly McMahon is with his club, the same with Paddy Andrews. There’s a whole host of players that are on a parallel track who are getting game time.
“We obviously know the players very well and what they can offer so after this process is finished, that we started two weeks ago, we’ll begin to formulate our plans in terms of the panel for the National Football League.
“But as you always have had, that’s very open-ended. If a player goes through a good run of form with the clubs, without hesitation we’ll bring him back in. Likewise, if somebody is going through a difficult time in their inter-county career, be it technically or tactically or for a whole host of reasons, we’ll let them go back.
“But it’s always an open-ended policy we’ve had and it’s one of the strengths of the guys. They understand that as well. There’s no guarantees.”
He said that he expected Alan Brogan to make a decision on his future “in the next couple of weeks”.