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Tuesday 27 June 2017

'Actions speak louder than words'

Play club games in summer - Nolan

Ballyboden St Enda’s Darragh Nelson, who captained his side to the 2016 All-Ireland Club SFC title. Pic: Sportsfile
Ballyboden St Enda’s Darragh Nelson, who captained his side to the 2016 All-Ireland Club SFC title. Pic: Sportsfile

Kevin Nolan has seen it from both sides and it doesn't look any more sustainable from either.

As an inter-county footballer, he found the readjustment period between the end of Dublin's season and the resumption of Kilmacud Crokes Championship campaign too short, too sudden and too brutal.

As a club-only player for the past two years, he found the wait for Dublin's year to end and thus Kilmacud's to restart tedious, prolonged and unpredictable.

"I can clearly see the issues that a club player has to deal with. I wouldn't have fully appreciated them before," he admitted in conversation with the Herald yesterday at the formal launch of the Club Players' Association at Ballyboden St Enda's grounds.

Gauge

"I would have heard lads talking about them coming back into the Crokes dressing-room after Dublin, but it's only when you experience it fully that you actually see the problems that they have to deal with."

Former Dublin footballer, Kevin Nolan (Kilmacud Crokes), who was Man of the Match in the 2011 All-Ireland SFC final, at yesterday’s CPA launch. Pic: Sportsfile
Former Dublin footballer, Kevin Nolan (Kilmacud Crokes), who was Man of the Match in the 2011 All-Ireland SFC final, at yesterday’s CPA launch. Pic: Sportsfile

Which prompted his affirmative response when Declan Brennan, secretary of the CPA but whom Nolan knew from his time in DCU when Brennan was GAA co-ordinator, came looking for help.

Nolan will serve as the CPA's Player Welfare co-ordinator and thus decided to gauge levels and reasons of dissatisfaction amongst club players in Dublin.

"I got in touch with lads I know from my days playing with Dublin and just asked them to throw up a survey I had done on their teams' Whattsapp group," he explained.

"Of that, I could see the fixtures was the biggest issue. It was obvious.

"It just showed the frustration players are experiencing."

The issue with regard to Dublin was touched upon by county board CCC Secretary John McNicholas in his report to annual convention last year when he wrote: "I fully accept that the delay is too long and totally unacceptable to the club-only player."

McNicholas also put paid to the well-aired notion of undue influence of inter-county managers with regard to club availability, stressing that: "both of our current senior county team managers have expressed a desire that club championship games should be played in the summer months to sharpen up players."

Nolan, for one, sees no issue over staging club Championship matches in the time between inter-county Championship games.

Moreover, he feels such an arrangement would prove beneficial for all involved.

"Why not?"

"My own experience with Dublin was that there was a Championship match every three weeks once the Championship started but if you can intertwine the club matches in that, that would be super.

"Jim Gavin would be looking at Cian O'Sullivan marking Diarmuid Connolly in a club Championship match.

"Now I think in a club Championship game, he would be under much more pressure marking Diarmuid Connolly than he would be in an in-house training match."

Change in the GAA can be grindingly slow however, and the process, hugely frustrating.

Though newly mobalised, it remains to be seen how many club players are now willing to engage at administration level.

"The last four years, I've been to one AGM in the club. That's not good enough," Nolan insisted.

"You need to be going to more. You need to get young lads influencing these decisions.

"It's grand saying 'I want change'. But you have to go and do something about it.

"So that's my involvement in it. Because actions speak louder than words. Those 106 responses, if I was to ask them to help me out, most of them would say no.

"But I think the more we can spread the work load, the easier and quicker we'll get things done."

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