The following statement was issued by the James Daly Cumann, Republican Sinn Féin Westmeath
Preas Raitheas / Press Release – 02/03/2017
“Over the past months GAA Director General Paraic Duffy had designed proposals for change to the Inter County senior football championship to be voted on at Congress which was held on the weekend of 24th – 26th Feb last. These changes effectively get rid of the quarter-final stage and replace it with a “Super 8” two groups of 4 teams in each, playing a round robin of fixtures, this was voted in at Congress by 76% of delegates for, all this against the wishes of the “player’s” (70% against) nationwide for it not to be introduced.
The reason being is that club players have to go months without playing fixture’s awaiting the outcome of their respected county teams and the availability of their fellow club player’s that are involved in those county panels, these players are not released back to the club’s until the county have finished their season which is often not until July or August. This leaves the club player’s training from January/February to October/November without a proper championship fixture over the summer months , not knowing when and where a fixture will be accommodated making it impossible for these club player’s to organise family holiday’s, wedding’s etc.
As too often in the past we have seen the powers in Croke Park use the organisation for Monetary gain, like the sky sports TV deal and that is exactly what this super 8 is designed for, more games equals bigger gate receipts because in this super 8 we won’t see any of the weaker counties represented only the same traditionally strong counties with the bigger followings making it an even “elitist group” and not promoting the other counties or the game as a whole and yes a bigger deal for TV rights, where would it eventually lead, a world series? Where we would see these counties travel to Dubai , Australia , North America , Canada, to play a team representing these countries where the association has huge number’s.
These changes and the gains behind them are not what the ideals of the men that formed the organisation in Thurles in 1884 stood for we have only last year heard the then Úactarain of the GAA Aogan Ó Fearghail state that “in the future if there are new arrangement’s we’d be open – minded about things like flag’s and anthem’s” saying he felt our national anthem , Amhran na bhFiann and the Tri-Colour create difficulty for the unionist community and that these symbols could be removed from the GAA in the future. Throw in the dropping of Rule 21, RUC/PSNI teams playing in Croke Park and the Brit Queen also being accommodated at GAA HQ not least to mention certain regiments of the British army.
The powers in Croke Park are not much different from the greedy corrupt politicians that sit in Leinster house. When Christy Cooney stepped down after his 3 years were up as president of the GAA it was revealed that FÁS his employer were given compensation to the sum of €480,000 because of his leave of absence of those 3 years. Mr Cooney as President still received a full time salary from the GAA. Surely this position should be an honour and a privilege to hold over a “Voluntary association”.
Only recently Monaghan man Declan Brennan along with other GAA people set up the CPA club player’s association (GPA look after County players) its principle aims are the emotional and physical wellbeing of GAA players. The opportunity to train and play meaningful game’s and recover in a balanced fixture programme and Fix the Fixtures they state that our games are a vehicle of enjoyment and self-expression of our Irishness, a sense of our own place through our club’s jerseys, with the pinnacle of a player’s career is representing their county but nothing can match playing with friends and family that they grew up with, all county players are club players. The CPA states Balance is needed, Players should come first as they are the lifeblood of the Association, yet when they wrote to the President as required under rule 3.35 to speak at Congress on behalf of their 20,000 members, he replied saying it would be inappropriate thus denying them the chance to speak to delegates, however since Congress (4days) there have been 3,000 + new members signed up to the CPA. 70% of players nationwide voted against the Super 8 and 76% of delegates voted it in this shows a huge disconnection within clubs between players and committee members.
In Fact members of the James Daly Cumman in Westmeath as members of respected clubs within that county spoke to their delegates before voting took place and Westmeath were to the fore in voting against the super 8 proposals, but it didn’t stop their county board bringing down Paraic Duffy to try and sell it to delegates at a meeting, in fact the current co-chairman of Westmeath GAA Sean Sheridan voiced his strong support on local radio for Paraic Duffy after congress, saying he was glad the super 8 got through and was disappointed that delegates in Westmeath voted against it.
Mr Sheridan would have liked his club delegates to have been obedient and not show him up in front of his superior. Paraic Duffy and the rest of the powers in the GAA don’t like the name super 8 but they haven’t been able to come up with another name themselves, no doubt they are too busy counting the profits they will receive when it is introduced in 2018.
This will have detrimental effects on the all-Ireland hurling championship completely overshadowing it as we will see 8 big football games on around the country at the same time as 1 hurling semi-final as the hurling championship will be nearing its conclusion and as football is played on a wider scale throughout the country it leaves hurling (the most ancient of team field games) fighting to survive. It’s time for the clubs to stand up to the Croke Park bullies , stop paying affiliations for a year and see do they like that and if all else fails a players strike at club level with clubs withdrawing their players from co panels.
Críoch / Ends
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