Punishment for counties ignoring ‘winter break’ to be decided

NEXT month’s meeting of the GAA’s Management Committee will decide on the penalties for counties who default on regulations banning collective training or challenge games for inter-county squads during November and December.

This will be the first time that the policy will be enforced and Director-General Paraic Duffy said in Melbourne yesterday that county committees have been reminded of their importance in the fight against player burnout.

“We’re insisting that this must be the case so that players can get a break for the first time. They can train on their own but there will be no collective training,” he commented.

In terms of policing it, Duffy believes that the players themselves will help — on the basis that the vast majority of them ‘will be delighted’ to get a break.

“I think most counties will respect it. I know a lot of team managers are delighted as well. They are glad of the break. I think it will be policed.

“Obviously if a county is organising sessions we will raise it with the Board but we’ve made it very clear we will take action on that.”

Counties will be have their funding withdrawn if they breach the regulation.

“The proposed penalties will be defined. Heavy sanctions will be imposed through funding and other penalties. There is a management meeting on the 21st of November, which will specify penalties.

“The issue here is burn-out and getting players a rest and it is based on the debate at Special Congress back in January. The only agenda here is the protection of players.

“A fella may well decide to play soccer or rugby in November or December because it’s a break from the professional-type preparation that players put in week in, week out as they prepare for big matches. Recreationally that might be relaxing. It’s getting away from the intense all year round training. How lads use the spare time is a matter for themselves but I think this is a big step forwards for players and all the evidence we have would suggest that they need the rest and were going to push this very, very hard. ‘’

GAA President Nickey Brennan added that counties have also been reminded of the restrictions in place for the commencement of squad training for minor and U21’s and that this will also be ‘rigidly enforced.’

Meanwhile, Duffy agreed with the suggestion that the establishment of a special committee to oversee the operation of the rules for the International Rules Series is likely once the go-ahead is given to continue. “After the last series we have been fire-fighting. If tomorrow night goes well we can look at it on the basis that it has a future and that it’s a long term thing.”


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