Belfast Telegraph

Clubs should look a bit closer to home before laying blame for fixture mess

By Declan Bogue

At the final whistle of the Tyrone county final, Clonoe manager Damian Cassidy allowed himself a moment of celebration, a vision of joy unconfined when he slid on his knees, Paolo Di Canio-style, onto the Healy Park turf.

When he later began talking he spoke at length about the personal sacrifices that many of his panel had made in order to gain this success. It had been mentioned in passing by captain Stephen McNulty in his acceptance speech also and when pushed for an example, Cassidy declined, stating that these issues were deeply personal.

And while he was full of praise for his team, that praise did not extend to the Tyrone county board when he said: "We won this Championship in 2008 and it was the first time this club had won in 19 years and for the Tyrone Board to expect us to go out and represent the county to the best of our ability at that particular time – and to expect us to do the same this time – it is grossly, grossly unfair and it is gross negligence.

"I am not hiding behind words. I am disgusted."

Elsewhere, the GAA are getting it in the ear with club commitments preventing members of the International Rules team from taking a full part in their test series against Australia.

Michael Murphy will be in action for Glenswilly on Sunday, less than 24 hours after captaining his country. He had support from one fellow player last week who tweeted 'sort it out GAA'.

The problem with this, and with Damian Cassidy's viewpoint, is that it is nothing to do really with the GAA, if by GAA they mean those at the highest levels of administration.

In Murphy's case, Donegal went out of the All-Ireland chase on August 4. Ten weeks later, the domestic Championship has not been completed. This was not the GAA's fault, but Donegal GAA's fault.

And the bad news is that it is going to get even worse, with Donegal's board agreeing to manager Jim McGuinness's request that no Championship games will be played while Donegal remain in the All-Ireland Championship in 2014.

In Tyrone, we have a situation where their continued involvement in the All-Ireland series up until August 25 made for a condensed Championship programme. Club players will put up with anything if a county gets to an All-Ireland final, but anything less and tough questions are asked.

As far back as March, when the Tyrone county board put it to a vote to play the first round of the club Championship in early June, the majority of clubs voted the proposal down.

As a result, the Championship could not begin until the first week of September.

What is lost in all these mud-slinging contests is that county boards are there to implement the will of clubs.

In these cases above, the clubs in each county are the culpable parties.

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