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Derry's hammering highlights CPA's fixtures frustration

By Declan Bogue

Casting an eye down the recent Club Players Association survey results raises questions. Launched to great effect in early January, a traditionally fallow time for GAA journalists, over 25,000 people signed up online to be counted as CPA members.

Their efforts have so far been stymied by the GAA, who pressed ahead with competitions reforms that ran contrary to the feelings of the CPA membership.

It appears frustration is at the root of their recently conducted survey of 3,200 replies. Allowing for the fact that respondents are more likely to feel in militant mood, the questions asked were definitely leading, such as: "Have you ever considered walking away from the game because of the lack of a definitive fixture calendar at club level?" (60% said yes).

It is my belief that a hell of a lot more apathy exists within the playing population. But what the CPA is trying to establish is better practice. For this they should be supported.

Last weekend was the perfect illustration of how dysfunctional fixture making currently is. Derry under-21 hurlers were beaten by 52 points by Kilkenny in an All-Ireland semi-final.

This game was staged at a time when players in Derry are tuned into the club football championship. With two hurling championship games fixed for Monday night past, there is a chance that a few players effectively downed tools during the match to avoid injury ahead of club action.

Last January, the incoming Ulster Secretary Brian McAvoy said to this writer: "We have to think about what happens in minor and under-21 provincial championships because there is no point going down year after year for a ritual slaughter. I know Antrim beat Wexford a few years ago but they lost the final by 22 points.

"I just don't see the point at the minute of that continuing."

The promise of the CPA on the day of their initial launch still rings true. There is a serious need to "fix the fixtures".

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