Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Donegal fixtures row leaving county in 'bad light'

Jim McGuinness no stranger to fixtures disputes

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has returned from his team's week-long warm weather training camp in Portgual to be faced with 'hardy annual' of the club v county fixtures crux.

The postponement of a round of domestic league games initially arranged for yesterday and Sunday and then re-fixed for today and Monday, before being cancelled together, has raised so many hackles that the county board is under fire.

Club officials are now insisting the board takes a stand with the county team management if this situation is not to be replicated time and again, thus casting Donegal in a bad light.

Ardara club manager Adrian Brennan's curt assessment of the current scenario has engendered widespread criticism from many clubs, it would seem.

"Look, the fact of the matter is that the tail is wagging the dog here as far as fixtures go," raps Brennan: "How long can this go on for?

"Club players are being denied games and that is not right. We all know that the county team has to be given its place but we have reached a ridiculous situation. It's becoming a hardy annual."

Brennan's blast puts into perspective the dark mood that prevails within the county just a week before McGuinness's side face Monaghan in the Division Two Allianz League final at Croke Park.

McGuinness himself is no stranger to controversy on the fixtures front but that did not stop him asking for this week-end's domestic league games to be postponed because he felt his county players who would have been expected to turn out for their clubs would still have been feeling the after-effects of a stiff training regime in Portgual.

Competitions Control Committee secretary Sean McGinley confirmed that McGuinness's request had, at the outset, been deemed "reasonable enough" in all the circumstances but "obviously there are repercussions about this."

Donegal GAA chiefs have refrained from being drawn into the debate but it looks certain that they will be forced to grasp the nettle if this not to become a boring saga within a county with a credible chance of gaining significant success this year.

One high-profile official makes no bones about where he feels Donegal stands right now.

"Donegal are being spoken of as possible Ulster champions. Yet here we are immersed in what I see as an unnecessary domestic wrangle. We have to get our house in order, that's the long and the short of it as I see it," he states.

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