O’Neill hoping for ‘revolutionary’ step

GAA President Liam O’Neill believes the season will be revolutionised if they can get all club competitions run off in the calendar year.

O’Neill believes if recommendations are passed by grassroots members, it may represent the greatest achievement of his three years at the helm.

“I’d put it well ahead of anything else. If this happens, it won’t happen for 2015, it will happen for 2016 but I’ll be very pleased as an ex-president if this works, and it will probably surpass anything that has happened in my three years. That’s how big it is.

“At the end of the day, it’s the club that matters, sometimes we have to walk the walk on that. We talk the talk often enough, but we need backing from clubs, we can’t do this unless the clubs come in and say we back it, because we want more games.

“But if we manage to finish our business in the year, that will open up so many possibilities for streamlining fixtures. It is the key to unlocking this difficulty we have.

“We’ve a huge task ahead. The debate is underway and we can put some concrete proposals together that hopefully will redress the imbalance between the importance we place on club activity versus county activity.

“I think the pendulum is beginning to swing. I think Saturday was the first step,” said O’Neill.

The GAA president understands the difficulties which lie ahead.

“I was Laois secretary before this and the key to fixture-making is looking at the end game. Wherever the last game is, you plan your fixtures back along then. It will mean we will have to look at some needless games that are played at inter-county level, we might have to tighten up on them, we might have to look at the 13-day rule. We might have to say to people: ‘look, sometimes waiting 13 days is needless’ and we need to give the clubs a voice, and this is where I think we’re putting the voice of the club first. There will be sacrifices but the end result is so great, I think it’s worth it. We’re very pleased with the reaction, we didn’t want to push it to a vote on Saturday because there might have been negativity and some people might have been afraid to go with us, but they’ve gone with us by agreeing in principle.

“I’ve undertaken, along with Páraic Duffy, to put together a very small committee which will show what the calendar year would look like should we do it. I’ve spoken to Central Council about the inter-county fixtures. I looked at junior football and intermediate hurling and looked at the timing of the U21 football clashing with the national league and with third-level competitions.

“You have to be prepared to change something, because if you keep on doing the same thing year after year, the only guarantee that you have is that you’ll get the same results. So this is the first step of opening the door to realistic ideas and fixture-making.”


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