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GAA ignoring its own advice when it comes to player burnout

Paraic Duffy
Paraic Duffy
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Staying with the CPA, we are drawn to a letter they sent to Eddie Sullivan, chairman of the Fixture Calendar Review Group.

They cited the ERSI report in 2013 where it was noted there was a 75% drop out rate of players between the ages of 21 and 26 in Gaelic football, and 60% in hurling.

They presented their own findings to Sullivan, and something that caught the eye included: "59% of 3,230 respondents in Aug 2017 stated they have considered walking away from the game because of a lack of a definitive fixture calendar at club level."

Furthermore, it included three extracted pages from the 'Player Overtraining, Burnout & the GAA Fixtures Calendar Report' from former director general Paraic Duffy (right) from 2015. A lot of Duffy's concern centred on the workload being placed on young players at the start of the year when county underage, county senior, schools, universities and club commitments were all either in full swing or else in the case of clubs, conducting pre-season training.

To quote the report, Duffy stated: "Given the clear evidence of the existence of the player welfare and fixtures - scheduling problems, the onus is on those who oppose the proposed changes - changes identified as necessary in report after report - to justify their opposition to improving player welfare, strengthening clubs and giving club players a fair deal, and to bring forward their own proposals that are realistic and feasible. Ducking the difficult choices that these issues pose for the Association simply by saying 'no' to these proposals is neither a responsible nor a credible stance."

And yet when the CPA suggested that somebody from a Sports Science background might be part of the Fixture Taskforce, the request was ignored.

What has happened in the interim? In the same Special Congress that voted in the Tier Two football competition, delegates also brought the Under-20 competitions, which ran alongside senior football last year, back to January and February, when young players are going to be decimated by demands.

No wonder the CPA motion for transparency in voting at GAA Congress was beaten by 87 votes to 13.

When all your business is done behind closed doors, then nobody is accountable. Suits some.

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