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Eugene McGee blasts Donegal’s deferral

Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee

BY CHRIS MCNULTY

THE Chairman of the Football Review Committee, Eugene McGee, has blasted Donegal’s decision to defer the 2014 senior and intermediate championships until the county team’s interest in the All-Ireland series has ceased.

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McGee was speaking this week at the launch of the second report compiled by the FRC, which focusses on two key areas: The scheduling of club fixtures, particularly club championship fixtures, and the structure of the current All-Ireland Football Championship, specifically the provincial championships.

In the report, the FRC are highly critical of Donegal’s decision to defer the Championships.

“It is our view that a decision taken recently by a county not to commence their senior and intermediate championships in 2014 until the county team has finished its All-Ireland championship campaign represents a fundamental and potentially disastrous development,” says the report.

“Were such a practice to become widespread this would strike at the very heart of club football and undermine the ethos of the GAA as an amateur, sporting, social and community organisation.”

Speaking at the launch, McGee went on to say that ‘if it were to spread around it would destroy club football’.

“This is a very dangerous tendency and I know well the top people in the GAA are very concerned about it, because it was an amazing decision to take that the clubs of Donegal apparently agreed that their players would play no (club) Championship football for about possibly five months in the middle of the summer,” he said.

“People forget that 98 per cent of all footballers are only club footballers, they are not going to be county players.

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“Most of them are as ambitious and motivated and they train as hard (as county players). They travel all over the country from their workplaces to train from their club. They don’t look for expenses or anything else.

“They are the real heroes and they have been treated abysmally by being left three, four and five months. They can’t plan a holiday, they can’t plan a wedding even – they can do nothing! It’s a ridiculous situation for a top class organisation like the GAA.”

The Committee feel that a tightening up of fixtures for club players is something that really needs to be addressed.

“What we are proposing is that the GAA will insist that there are three games played between say May and July, that’s not asking a lot…hopefully it is more,” explained Magee.

“That would please and satisfy most players I think. That can be done in different ways, but it is up to the GAA. We are only making the proposal the GAA have to implement these things.

“County managers have a big say in this. A lot of them seem to take ownership of players. They don’t just train them, they have total ownership of them. They decide their social habits, their dietary habits and all of that sort of stuff. That’s what is doing the damage.

“Only some county managers are far, far too dogmatic when they play club matches. That shouldn’t be their decision at all, that should be between the county executive and the CCCC and the manager at the start of the year.”

The FRC proposes Croke Park’s CCCC should have ‘overall responsibility’ for all fixtures.

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