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Down star MarkPoland seeking payment for Friday night ties

By Declan Bogue

Down's Mark Poland has called for players to be adequately compensated for taking time off work, after the GAA released the confirmed 2014 National League fixtures, with Down and Armagh meeting for the first-ever Friday night league game on February 7.

The Athletic Grounds date is the only game in next year's league to be hosted on a Friday night and is sure to arouse some controversy in relation to the issue of 'broken-time' payment to players who will be forced to take time off in order to prepare for the match.

"There are boys working for companies, or even men who are self-employed who will lose out," stated Poland.

"That's for the GAA to come up with something to reimburse the players because you are just throwing this upon players; a Friday night game.

"They are putting players out and some might find that hard, especially the ones with families. Players who are taking half days should be compensated in some way in my opinion."

As a coach with the Down county board, Poland does not foresee it being a huge problem for him personally to be granted the time off, but in his previous career as a plaster, he points out, it would have been problematic.

"If I was plastering for example, you would be talking about getting away a couple of hours earlier. Even to get home, get your gear ready, get fed and think about the match. There's that much going into teams now and especially this year I know the league, we will be looking to put a big effort into the league. Armagh is going to be a massive game and there will definitely be boys needing to take half days.

"This is the sacrifice they are making and it's the way the GAA is going, it's getting more professional every year, demands are getting greater."

While the GAA may see Friday night games as increasing their exposure across the weekend, Poland sounds a sensible note of caution when he speculates that the game could have a smaller attendance than is the norm for this local derby.

"I don't see why they would have tried that because if Down had have played Armagh on a Saturday or a Sunday you would probably get a massive crowd and it would probably affect supporters coming from work.

"Supporters, bottom line is some of them just will not bother with it and if it had have been a Saturday game, there was time there during the day to prepare and plan. It is a new road the GAA are going down."

Belfast Telegraph

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