herald

Thursday 29 September 2016

Farrell: League schedule doesn't make any sense

THE GPA will ask the GAA to delay the start of the National Leagues and change the under-21 grade to an under-20 competition in a an effort to protect their student membership.

They have also endorsed the removal of college teams from pre-season inter-county competitions and proposed a restructure of the fixture programme between January and March to avoid overlapping competitions.

A report, written by Dr Aoife Lane (Waterford IT), which was launched yesterday, entitled 'Never Enough Time', and incorporating data from the GPA's annual player survey, student questionnaires and workshops, shows that 40 per cent of third level inter-county players repeat college exams and 55 per cent are experiencing financial difficulty as a direct result of their burgeoning sporting demands.

inertia

"There has been some inertia around this issue for a long time now," stated GPA Chief Executive Dessie Farrell at the document's launch.

"At a particular point in the calendar, over a two-month period, everybody's up in arms but then it moves on and comes back 10 months later," he added, expanding on the motivation for such a report.

"It's definitely something that we feel, for once and for all, now that we have the evidence, to go and tackle it properly rather than get the hearsay or anecdotal (evidence)."

The altering of the start of the Leagues to a later date in the calendar is a move that has already been touted by many - including several high profile inter-county managers - and Farrell contends that the current arrangement "doesn't make a lot of sense".

"We kick off with the start of the National League and then there's a two-week break in the middle of the whole thing. There's no other competition in the world that is run on that basis.

tighten

"A big launch and then there's a pause, it goes again. I think you could definitely tighten it up. I think you could push it back."

And though the refixing of the third level competitions to some point prior to Christmas has been routinely held aloft as a potential solution to some of the problems addressed in the report.

Farrell admitted: "We looked at that and obviously consulted with players and with the colleges on that and there doesn't seem to be an appetite at all to do that."

Farrell conceded that the proposals were partly influenced by their ability to make it into GAA legislation although only one - the intended under-20 grade - would be required to go in front of Congress.

Currently, approximately 600 Gaelic Player Assoction members are full-time students attending third level colleges.

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