John Costigan: St Patrick’s Day club finals date must remain sacrosanct

Long-standing GAA official John Costigan says the vast majority of director general Páraic Duffy’s burnout, welfare and fixtures proposals must be endorsed by Congress next month – but is opposed to the implementation of the calendar year.

Former Tipperary chairman Costigan has served on several committees such as the original burnout group in 2007 and the minor review group as well as other national GAA bodies such as the Central Council, the Central Competitions Control Committee, and the Central Hearings Committee.

Even as a self-professed traditionalist, he believes in reducing minor level in football and hurling to U17 and bringing forward the All-Ireland senior inter-county finals by two weeks.

“I think the manner Páraic Duffy and his team has put forward this document represents a magnificent contribution to the association. It is incumbent on us as responsible GAA members to give those proposals the consideration they deserve, and as (former GAA president) Liam O’Neill once said when putting his minor review work group in place his priority was to have the young man’s welfare at the centre of the debate.

“We must bear in mind some changes proposed will be difficult on traditionalists like me but we must accept when structures were put in place it was for a different constituency to what we live in today.”

However, losing the All-Ireland senior clubs finals on St Patrick’s Day is not a recommendation Costigan can defend. “I don’t fully agree with the calendar year fixtures schedule and I don’t think the playing of All-Ireland junior and intermediate finals at club level in both codes weeks prior to Christmas will have much promotional value.

“I like the idea of All-Ireland Club senior finals in both codes on Patrick’s Day and it is a date in the calendar that is irreplaceable, in my opinion.”

Costigan isn’t sure of the benefit playing the U21 All-Ireland hurling final before the senior decider will bring but says reducing the minor grade to U17 from an educational and developmental level is “bulletproof”.

He added: “Ambitious young managers and coaches, some of whom seem answerable to no one, add additional training regimes on already overburdened developing young men that has led to a situation many players in the 20 to 22 age bracket are being compelled to undergo surgery to hips and other areas that should not happen until decades later in their lives.”


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