A Step Too Far For Club Players & Fans Of Gaelic Games
Super 8’s and Round Robins are the 2018 new brainchild of G.A.A. legislators to maintain cash flow to Croke Park and we all know cash flow is all our livelines. Hurling and football is supposed to be an amateur sport and a huge component of Irish sporting heritage, but in the 21st century, both codes now seemed to be reserved for the elite inter county brigade, where the money flows from spectators.
Clubs and their players are the pawns in the new inter county format and in the glorious summer months of 2018 now closing in rapidly, club championships all over Ireland have barely begun. This is shambolic disregard for the so called grassroots and while the stars come out to play, week in; week out; their brothers, who are not considered good enough for county teams, are waiting on the wings for the autumn and winter months, the rain and slush, to finally don their club colours in championship matches.
It is beyond belief how any association could treat their main asset in such condescending attitude and the immense silence from the recently established club players association, is also astonishing. It proves once again, that despite the rallying call of the club players association on foundation,they, just like the Gaelic Players Association, have no answer to the Croke Park power brokers who ride on regardless.
The late Spring and early Summer/Autumn months are the prime times for all gaelic games and with just 6 months to fit in a huge volume of championship matches, there has to be a loser with back doors, side doors and now Round Robins and Super 8’s for the elite hurlers and footballers. We all know the losers.
The introduction at club levels of back doors is a far cry from times past and the congestion arising from back doors has seriously downgraded interest from fans and that will continue under the current system. The magic of knock out in the first round and out for the year, was often lamented by clubs but the G.A.A. failed dismally to upgrade their own secondary competitions for clubs. In recent years club championship finals almost reached Christmas Day before D-Day produced winners of county championships.
There is ONE major item dictating the G.A.A. attitude to club players and that is the governing body overseeing two major codes. Soccer and rugby are both stand alone codes with the dates for matches written in solid ink and no tinkering with rules. Players can plan their year ahead. Not so with hurling and gaelic football and this begs the question; will the current and upcoming generations of young athletes tolerate such inconsiderations by Croke Park.
Hurling has revealed that soccer, rugby and gaelic football, do not come next or near the flavour of most hurling matches at club and county levels, but as long as hurling is thrown into the same basket as gaelic football for the arrangements of matches, the chaos that now exists for club games, will grow worse week on week. The thousands of young men playing both codes at club levels will not accept such scant regard for the downgrading of club competitions. In the glorious sunshine of the last two months, club players were left heading for the seaside or relaxing at home watching their inter county friends on TV every Sunday.
Super 8’s and Round Robins were not designed for club players and the expectations of the governing body in a huge stream of revenue for the association flowing into provincial and Central Councils, were dealt with defining answers at Páirc Ui Chaoimh (Clare/Wexford) and Croke Park (Monagan/Kildare and Galway/Kerry) with sparse attendances on Sunday 15th July 2018. A serious rethink of both Round Robins and Super8's is essential despite the excellence of the hurling at the expense of the club players.
The anticipated revenues fell far short of projected figures for Round Robinsand the sole reason for such a calamity is the cost of admission levels for individuals and families. The Super8's are under a severe financial examination. There is no Celtic Tiger roaring in the Ireland of 2018 but the G.A.A. ignore all the other cost factors that accompany match days for fans. Going to games on a weekly basis is a huge burden for the vast majority of fans and despite their slogan; fans can enjoy games on their large screens in the comfort zones of their livingrooms.
When the curtain starts to descend in the semis and finals, most fans will be eager to savour the atmosphere and take the financial pain of outrageous ticket prices for our so called amateur gaelic games. Meantime gaelic football, as sporting entertainment, has gone so far down the radar, it is now a huge ask of fans to pay out and sit and watch such terrible standards.
Derry JF Doody