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Horan calls on counties to sort own fixture lists

 

Middle man: Crossmaglen’s Jamie Clarke (centre) comes under attention from Scotstown’s Mark Duffy, Emmet Caulfield and Damien McArdle
Middle man: Crossmaglen’s Jamie Clarke (centre) comes under attention from Scotstown’s Mark Duffy, Emmet Caulfield and Damien McArdle
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

With the Club Players' Association threatening to 'escalate' their next step in the stand-off with the GAA over club fixtures, GAA President John Horan has stated that it is up to individual county boards to provide players with a programme that satisfies everyone.

In a recent missive to the media, the players' group stated that: "We have a clear trail of correspondence from Croke Park about the new Fixtures Group, but it has yet to be constituted or a date set for meetings.

"We thought we were being listened to on the formation of the group, its timeframe of activity and its terms of reference. Sadly, progress has since ground to a halt, despite our efforts and enthusiasm. Words but no action."

The statement finished with a threat left dangling in the air: "We will be in touch again soon to update you on next steps, including possible escalation. We ask you as a club player to get ready to stand up for your club against continued inaction."

However, Horan has said that there is no disconnect between the average club player and the Association at large, even though clubs can experience lay-offs of several months over the summer season while county action takes over.

"Every county has to create its own situation," stated Horan. "There are lots of counties very happy with where they are at the moment, but from a national level, if you look at it, the National League is run in a two-month period. It starts at the start of February and it's gone by the end of March.

"The Championship starts in May and predominantly by the first week in July, 24 of the 32 counties in football have gone out of the Championship, and you only have six counties left in the hurling Championship.

"I cannot see how you can condense that a whole lot more.

"The inter-county manager is going to want the players for 10 days before they play a match, the club manager is going to want them back for a week before they play a match, so the more breaks you create in those blocks the more wasted time there actually is.

"By its nature, everyone wants the Championship and that creates uncertainty.

"You have to have a start point and a finish point, and you have to commit yourself to both of those dates.

"What can you do outside of that? Leagues? Not everybody wants leagues."

Horan stated that he was poised to create a group to examine the situation as it pertains.

With reviews of the Super8s competition structure in football, and the new league format for the Leinster and Munster Hurling Championships, there is a lot of change coming at once for an organisation not exactly famed for it.

The former Leinster chairman also dropped a hint that St Patrick's Day as the date for All-Ireland Club finals could be ended. That would mean Ulster club games are played in more favourable conditions before winter.

"Forget about St Patrick's Day, flip that back into January - if we could get it back earlier, that would be great, but in the short-term so that it doesn't go wrong we'd certainly be looking at the club semi-final/finals in January. If we could get the semi-finals before Christmas, all the better," explained Horan.

"There's an 18-week period for those particular clubs. You saw this year the benefit of having the Slaughtneil players back for Derry - if you had to play the National League without those lads, there are disadvantages."

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