Games chief calls for rethink on club finals calendar

THE AIB All-Ireland club finals should be moved from their St Patrick’s Day date to a slot earlier in the year, according to GAA Head of Games Pat Daly.

The Croke Park official believes that both club deciders, along with the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups and Under-21 championships, should be completed before the start of the National Leagues.

Daly believes such moves are essential if the GAA calendar is to be streamlined for the benefit of players, administrators and spectators.

His plan would also see provincial cups such as the FBD League, McGrath and O'Byrne Cups restructured so that each competing team would be guaranteed three fixtures ahead of the leagues.

This would negate the necessity for teams to organise challenge matches which, he says, should be banned and all other tournaments embargoed.

Daly has also called for the restructuring of the national leagues themselves, as well as the All-Ireland football and hurling championships. While he believes everyone stands to gain from such sweeping alterations, the players would do so more than most.

"It would be possible to have more and better regard for best practice in terms of team preparation, for example in peaking/periodisation," Daly explains in his annual report to Congress next month.

"The current problems attached to burnout, for example players playing two games on one weekend at one extreme and, at the other, problems resulting from dropout due to lack of games, would be largely eliminated, as would the need for pre-Christmas training on a group/team basis.

"It would be impossible to justify this on the grounds of keeping players fresh or to justify having more than two training sessions per week during the playing season, for the same reason.

"In addition, it would be possible to achieve a greater degree of synchronisation between club and county training and, in the process, to ensure club coaches develop greater understanding of the principles of physical fitness."

On the matter of eligibility for third-level football and hurling Daly wants participation in third-level competitions confined to the four-year period immediately after the completion of second-level education.

If, for example, a student decided to take a year out on completion of second level education or at any stage of his studies, he would be eligible to play only for three years instead.

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