Kieran Donaghy: It's difficult to see a player reporting their own county

Kieran Donaghy: It's difficult to see a player reporting their own county
EBS ambassadors and Tralee Warriors Basketball Club stalwarts, Kieran Donaghy, left, and Jimmy Diggins, pictured at the launch of the 2020 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport Awards supported by EBS.

Reporting your own county for breaking training bans is not something Kieran Donaghy sees working.

At their AGM on Wednesday, the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) voted in the proposal to establish a confidential disclosure platform “to help review squad adherence to off-season”.

The official players body put forward the idea as more inter-county footballers and hurlers seek a set down-time period, and as someone who played football and basketball non-stop the last five years the former Kerry star understands the need to cement boundaries.

However, he could never consider giving up his own team. “I don’t think so. It is fine to say it is confidential but you would be terrified in case anything came out. I don’t know.

"I can’t answer that. I won’t be in the position, thanks be to God. It is a tricky one.”

That the GPA felt compelled to put forward the idea indicates that all is not well in the fixtures calendar, Donaghy argues. 

“The fact that we have to bring in this motion tells you that there are major problems. Going forward, everyone is screaming out for change and we are always told it won’t get through Congress, you won’t be able to do it and this won’t pass and that won’t pass and that the Ulster Council wants this and the Munster Council wants that.

“I get it. There is a financial side to it. There is recognising their own provinces, I get all that but  for the overall enjoyment of everyone playing the game… like, can we see more fellas like (Stephen) Cluxton and Tomás Ó Sé playing 15, 16, 20 years? 

"In the current regime, it is difficult enough to see that a guy will go that long in the current format because basically you can’t do what you like. You can’t take promotions in work.

I won’t blanket everyone by saying ‘you can’t’ but you will certainly find it very difficult to be working, to be taking a promotion at work, to starting a family at around 30 and continue to do the training that you are supposed to do.

“With the time of the season now it is very difficult to do all that. The whole thing about people reporting on their own county is obviously going to be a tricky one and if people do it they will do it for their own prerogative. If they don’t they will be choosing to protect their county side so it is a very difficult to see what the right thing to do this.”

Donaghy, who lines out with Austin Stacks against Kilcummin in the second round of the Kerry senior club championship this weekend, believes the pandemic-affected 2020 season may have provided the GAA with the chance to radically change the fixtures calendar.

“The seasons are too long. Like, we have a perfect template of boys playing with their clubs for seven or eight weeks and we could do that a bit earlier in the year where we could move the (National) League, push it back or drop the provincial championships because they are outdated.

“Whatever has to happen, the club player has to have their guaranteed eight or nine weeks of championship football, whatever it is, not this club month in April and you really have two weeks because the county guys want them back. 

I think it is a real chance to have a look at it next year.

“ There should be a really good sitdown that would make the club game better and more efficient and how we can make the county season shorter. It feels now like if you are a county player that you are at it for 10 or 11 months. If you go all the way, you are starting in the gym in November, training in December, and if you are in All-Ireland final you are going until September and that is just too long and the club game is suffering for it.”

The lack of certainty remains a major issue for GAA fixtures, Donaghy feels. “That is the great thing about basketball. I start my season, I know Saturday night we are here, Saturday night we are there and I know that for the next six, seven months I can plan, I can organise things with my family. I love that whereas with the GAA, you just can’t do that and that is well known. If they could make an attempt to tidy all that up it would be great.”

* EBS ambassador and Tralee Warriors basketball star Kieran Donaghy was speaking at the launch of the 2020 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport Awards supported by EBS.

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