McKaigue fears players being ignored by GAA top brass

Slaughtneil and Derry’s Chrissy McKaigue sense the players’ voices are being ignored by the GAA in terms of the fixtures schedule, competition structures, and playing rules.

McKaigue fears players being ignored by GAA top brass

Slaughtneil and Derry’s Chrissy McKaigue sense the players’ voices are being ignored by the GAA in terms of the fixtures schedule, competition structures, and playing rules.

A major supporter of the Club Players Association, McKaigue says that players’ views were not considered in recent Annual and Special Congress votes such as the second-tier inter-county football championship and representation on the Central Competitions Control Committee.

“Some of the things that go on in the GAA aren’t something a lot of players, I’d say, would agree with,” said the Slaughtneil star at AIB’s launch of the All-Ireland Senior club semi-finals on January 4 and 5.

“Obviously, the fixtures have been a long-standing debate, and I can’t see too many players for the life of me thinking the forward rule mark is going to be revolutionary for the game.

“I think football is in a good enough state without constantly tweaking the game, but these things are being passed by landslide majorities. The vast majority of players are saying they don’t want the changes, yet the changes are happening anyway.

“It’s probably a similar narrative with the fixtures — not too many people are saying the season isn’t long enough, I think people are saying the way to do it is to condense the fixtures. It’s been listened to, to a certain extent, but it is concerning from a players’ viewpoint, I don’t think too many players are asking for a huge amount. I think sometimes they just want their voice to be heard, because their voice echoes probably what the vast majority of the Gaelic community is thinking.

“I think there comes a stage where if a player’s voice isn’t being listened to, and their wishes are pure and want the best for the Association — the club and the county — then you do start to become a bit concerned.”

McKaigue doesn’t like how the GAA have altered rules of Gaelic football and the season.

It’s his assertion that the GAA has become too Croke Park-centric and changes don’t truly represent the Association as a national organisation.

I think the GAA has moved so quickly, in the last decade anyway at least, before the circle started turning. I’m not sure we can claim to be as democratic as we might think.

“I think certainly the ethos of the GAA has shifted considerably. For me, I’m maybe slightly biased because of the success I’ve been allowed to have with the club, but the club is the still very much the lifeblood of our association and those that forget that, or are forgetting it, it would be wise of them to be very quickly reminded that the GAA is built on the club volunteers and the club spirit.

“We always see it every year with the passion the county, provincial and national competitions generates, and that’s from junior to senior. I don’t think it takes anybody too wise to see that, and God forbid the day we ever forget that one.”

McKaigue classes the inter-county All-Ireland SFC as “not a healthy competition” because there is a widening gap between Dublin and four or five teams and everyone else.

“The biggest thing for me now, fixtures aside, is how do we look at making more county teams competitive at the top grade, rather than trying to filter them in to certain grades that they are competitive at, because for me that doesn’t do anything to address the bigger issue of how do we close the gap.”

And how can that be done?

“Surely there has to be somewhere in between that allows the lesser-known counties or traditional strongholds to gain some kind of footing that they can set up a structure that allows their teams to have a level of resources that allows them in time to set up structures to be competitive. I don’t think it is unrealistic to expect or want that.”

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