Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon
This year, more than ever, there has been a great deal of discontent in most quarters as to the lack of competitive games for club players during the Summer months – not only in Galway but across the country. Already, the stories from across Galway have begun to filter through. One recounted as recently as last weekend was that a prominent local senior club player in his late 20s, who had represented Galway at minor level, had packed it in due to having no championship games between late April and early September.
If this is representative of the level of disillusionment now being felt by club players – hurling and football – it is difficult to say but certainly any conversation you have with players or mentors involved with a club in Galway at the moment usually finishes with the line: ‘It’s a joke!’ Only they are not laughing.
By and large, this is not wholly the fault of Galway GAA because until the Association at national level gets to grips with this imbalance by addressing the excessive amounts of fixtures now set aside for inter-county teams, particularly for successful dual counties like Galway, this cannot be solved at local level.
Annaghdown’s Padraig Carr, who has just taken over from football legend Padraic Joyce as the Club Players Association (CPA) head representative in the county, agrees and states: “In a nutshell, you are trying to get a regular club fixture for all the club players without hindering your county’s prospects.”
Carr says, ideally, the club player should know the perimeters of their pre-season, competitive season and post-season – just as you have in local soccer and rugby – and not have their sporting year running late into the year or, as often happens, playing the concluding stages of secondary competitions the following year.
“So, the first thing the CPA is looking to address is scheduling,” says Carr. “Basically, that each county would publish their entire club fixture schedule at the start of every season, guaranteeing that it won’t change. I suppose, within that then, you are looking for All-Ireland competitions to be completed within the calendar year.
“The second part of that, then, would be continuity, meaning a more regular and more meaningful programme of matches for all club players, especially for the months from April to September. As you are well aware, for those months, 20 weeks there, there is nothing really going on for lads.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.