This is no minor matter

I got a call last Thursday from a friend wondering if I could meet him for lunch. Upon arrival at the chosen venue I could see said friend was extremely agitated and frustrated and it became apparent he needed a sounding board to launch a tirade regarding a minor match fixture. Friend happens to be the manager of the minor team in question that had made it through to the county league semi final. It transpired that his annoyance and frustration concerned a break down in communication regarding the fixture. He had received an email the previous night (Wednesday ) saying that the fixture was scheduled for the following Friday evening (48 hours notice ). He told me that he had been informed on the Monday night that the game would definitely not be played during that week and the best information he got suggested that it would be a couple of weeks before it would take place. Consequently the club did not fulfil the fixture and the match was awarded to the opposition on a walk over. The county final at this particular grade is fixed for this weekend. Some of you may be aware that the Oxegen concert also takes place this weekend when thousands of youngsters of this particular age group travel to the music festival.

Mindful of the fact that this county needs to start producing players soon in a terrain where the GAA is being challenged by other codes, we need to hold tightly onto what we have. Not alone do we need to increase the participation of 10 – to 18-year-olds playing our games; we also need to keep them interested and, above all, provide lots of games for them. What happened my friend and his team (a scenario repeated on numerous occasions around the county and at most levels ) last week does nothing to improve the lot of the GAA and certainly does nothing to encourage our young players to continue to play the game. Somewhere along the communication line there is a serious issue that requires addressing. And furthermore I would suggest that a fixtures committee does not blindly populate a fixture list without taking cognisance of the fact that there are graduation functions and other such attractions on at this time of the year. Let us not turn away our future generation by poor fixture listings. Give them every opportunity to carry on the torch and ensure that we can compete with the big boys some day soon.

Having county players train on the day of the club championship demeans the club championship

It was brought to my attention last Friday evening that the county senior footballers were to convene in groups last Saturday morning at McHale Park for assessment on their strength training programmes. This involved a 30 minute indoor weights session and some outdoor drills over a similar duration. I have no issue whatsoever with this type of work being conducted, but I do have a problem with it taking place on the day of club championship fixtures. It just is not good enough.

The great strength of the association is its insistence that small local clubs be viable entities in their own right. The small local clubs are not always the backwaters that a GAA hierarchy might imagine them to be. Their one opportunity to bring a bit of vibrancy and colour to their community is on championship days. Clubs with county players in their ranks are lucky in many ways. The county player is invariably the guy that his fellow players look to for direction and leadership on the field. Very often it is these marquee players that will get their team over the winning line with the quality of their play. The last thing however a club wants on match day is a tired disinterested county player among their ranks. Insisting that county players train on the same day as they play club championship is not fair on the players in question or on their team-mates and is, in fact, disrespectful to the clubs. It demeans the club championship somewhat and instead of county panellists sparkling with their clubs, they very often look tired, jaded, and become, in many instances, injured. It all means we have a poorer championship as a result.

Big boys still standing in Moclair race

All the main protagonists in the senior club championship are still standing after last weekend’s fixtures. Our Crossmolina boys brought some recent good form to the home fixture v Westport last Saturday evening. We were aware that a win would see us safely through to the quarter finals and were therefore anxious to get the job done in this second round of fixtures.

Westport on the other hand have hit a poor run of form in recent weeks. However they played well in the first half, particularly at midfield where they were winning lots of primary possession. They had us on the back foot for long periods of that half but we still managed to go into the break leading by three. We managed to get on top with a few quick early scores in the second half and eventually ran out easy winners. Our last match v Ballintubber in five weeks time will be of little significance bar bragging rights that would come with winning the group as both of us have qualified for the quarter finals. It is a home game for Crossmolina and will present us with an opportunity to test ourselves against the county champions. Castlebar Mitchell’s are motoring along nicely. They had a good, if not convincing, win over Charlestown that also sees them into the knockout stages. Tom King apparently is in sparkling form for them these days but unfortunately picked up what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the second half. Pat Holmes will be keeping his fingers crossed that he will be OK as he is a player who is producing eye catching performances on a regular basis these days. Breaffy will head for Knockmore in the final group match knowing a point will see them through to the quarter finals. I believe Aidan O Shea was the more dominant one of the brothers last weekend. He needed to be on top of his game as I believe Kiltane made them fight all the way to the finish. His younger brother Conor lined out at full forward and apparently played very well. Trevor Mortimer did not start for Shrule Glencorrib last Sunday. He was, however, introduced towards the end of the match when it appeared that they were in serious danger of losing out to Claremorris. They eventually came away from that fixture with a draw and are in pole position to advance to the quarter finals. Alan Dillon did not start for Ballintubber, but he too was sprung from the bench when danger lurked in their home fixture v Garrymore. At one stage towards the end of that game, I was beginning to think that the final group game in five weeks time in Crossmolina would have Ballintubber needing a win to qualify. It would have made for an interesting game, but they finished strongly with Cillian O’Connor getting a crucial goal towards the end of the game. Andy Moran did not start for Ballaghaderreen and I believe Ronan McGarrity came off injured when playing for Ballina. These issues will be a concern for James Horan over the next few days as he prepares for the Connacht final.


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