Derek Kavanagh urges Páraic Duffy to shelve championship plans

Club Players Association (CPA) fixtures coordinator Derek Kavanagh believes the “Super 8” All-Ireland SFC proposal will be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” for club fixtures.

As the Cork County Board meet tonight to discuss it and other motions that will be voted on this Saturday, former county captain Kavanagh has reiterated the call for GAA director general Páraic Duffy to hold off on the blueprint and sit down with the CPA and other stakeholders to discuss alternatives.

Adding another layer to the inter-county season, Kavanagh believes, is not in the best interests of club players or the GAA as a whole.

“Páraic’s proposals have got a lot of publicity of late and rightly so because a lot of thought has gone into them and a lot of common sense in there but we have a bundle of alternatives to the ‘Super 8’ sitting there, which include similar enough structures.

“But on top of the tertiary competitions that you have in January and then on top of the National League and the All-Ireland championships it (“Super 8”) is kind of a bit much, I think, and it’s going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in terms of the complete dominance of the inter-county calendar from January right through to July and August with no gaps at all.

“We have plenty of proposals but there’s no point putting them out there until we’re sitting across the table with the likes of Páraic Duffy and the fixtures committee. 

"That’s the audience we want so we get our voice heard because there is plenty of room for improvement with the fixtures and everybody knows that.

“I think Páraic Duffy is trying very hard, in fairness. Yes, they (proposals) do free up September for the elite counties but they make it harder for the rest of the year and everybody knows the club scene is at crisis point. We want to have the proper forum to make the voices of the clubs heard.”

According to Kavanagh, the polarisation that exists in some of the provincial competitions is the main issue with the football championship, not what happens following them in the All-Ireland series.

“If you step back and look at it, why is Páraic doing it that way? He is doing it because there is a lot of dead rubbers in terms of the provinces and you’re not really getting the maximum out of your championship. 

"And you’re not; you don’t get much out of Dublin beating Westmeath in a Leinster final and you’re not really seeing Dublin slip into fifth gear until they’re at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage, and that’s a shame.

“They might even get a handy quarter-final and then you’re only getting them at their best for one or two games.

“You’re not getting the maximum of Kerry either. It makes sense that you want to see these teams play better opposition on a weekly or bi-weekly basis? Why don’t we do that?

“The real answer is the provinces won’t budge and won’t give up their championships. So the answer is to work around that but creating a little championship on top of the provincial one and I think it’s one competition too many, really, for what gain?

“I still come back to my point that an inter-county player would value winning a county championship medal with his club over a National League one and yet the National League gets two and a half months, three months of uninterrupted playing time. Yet the club scene is so fragmented.”

Kavanagh has heard the argument put forward about the profile damage that could be done to Gaelic games by finishing the inter-county season in August with the All-Ireland finals brought forward. He counters it.

“You heard on the (RTÉ) League Sunday programme that you’re giving up box office time in September but the Super Bowl just finished the other week and the season lasted four months.

“Are the NFL worried about media coverage from March to August? No, they’re not.

“They have a great product and they will start ramping up the machine in July or August and then, bang, it takes off, dominates and then goes away again. Giving up September, I think it’s great that it would be giving back to the clubs.”

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