Crazy decision to fix championship games during Leaving Cert

There is so much to love, admire, and be proud of about the GAA and yet at times it is one of the most frustrating organisations to have anything to do with. Take the recent decision to fix the next round of senior, intermediate, and junior club games for the weekend of June 8/9 for example. This happens to be the opening weekend of the Leaving Cert exams and most if not all clubs have players or panellists involved in the State exams.

In Athlone we have at least four starters and two or three more very close to the starting team in Leaving Cert. Is it fair to expect them to give up the best part of the Saturday or Sunday to play The Downs (presumably in Mullingar ) when really they should be studying? It is going to be difficult to concentrate on study if there is a championship game that evening. Even if you were blinkered enough to concentrate you will still be gone for four hours minimum.

Aside from the study time missed is the risk of picking up an injury and being forced to repeat a full year. Even something as slight as a sprained finger could be enough to mess up your exams.

In our opening game one of our brightest young players suffered concussion and wasn’t released from hospital until the following (Monday ) evening. He was due to sit his oral Irish exam on the Monday but was lucky enough that he managed to rearrange it for the Thursday. Yet if this was his written exam he would be resigned to repeating his Leaving Cert.

I am only using my club as an example but I know that every club is affected to a greater or lesser degree. Intermediate and junior clubs are more likely to be affected than senior clubs, but is a real concern for all.

Surely there are enough weekends in the year to run the championship off without putting young players, and their parents, in a predicament that they shouldn’t be in. It is frankly irresponsible in my opinion of the CCC who made the decision.

The Athlone delegate did raise this issue at a recent county board meeting but few if any other clubs spoke up and the buck was passed to the CCC. Clubs have to realise you get what you deserve and they must show a bit more unity if they want to influence the powers that be. I know from having spoken to prominent people in a number of clubs in the south of the county that they are not happy that games are going ahead on this weekend but there is no point in complaining now.

I know the CCC will offer a thousand reasons why the games had to go ahead but I, like many more won’t be buying them. Hopefully all of the Leaving Cert students who decide to tog for the second round of games will avoid injury and get the points they are looking for. If they do it will be no thanks to the County Board.

Talking of the GAA being frustrating, spare a thought for Padraig Pearses who were due to play St Faithleachs’s in St Aidan’s grounds last Sunday in the opening round of the Roscommon club championship with the home side St Aidan’s due to play in the second game.

Despite the referee deeming the pitch playable the host club decided it wouldn’t hold up for two games so the Pearses’ game was cancelled and St Aidan’s went on to win their game (without doing too much if any damage to the pitch! ). Pearses now have to wait until late July or early August for the re-fixture.


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