The club versus county rumpus that has arisen across the country in recent weeks was as predictable as it was depressing. So much for the still-ongoing Covid-19 crisis being used by the GAA as an opportunity to do things better. Instead it was just more of the same old story.
It’s good, then, to read Mike Finnerty’s interview with Mayo GAA Chairman Liam Moffat in this week’s Mayo News (here). In it, the Chairman confirms that, as per Croke Park’s orders, there will be no collective training by the three county squads (Senior and Minor footballers and the hurlers) until 14th September.
Instead, Mayo GAA are, the Chairman says, taking a collaborative approach with clubs, involving significant interaction between management, backroom team members and others at county level with club management teams. By all accounts the webinar last week that James Horan and members of his backroom team did with club managers went down well and, according to Mike Finnerty’s report, both James Horan and Ciaran McDonald have also taken part in training sessions at club level in recent weeks.
As Mike’s piece confirms, this doesn’t mean there’ll be no activity going on with the county panels between now and mid-September. Players involved at county level will continue to be monitored and assessed on an ongoing basis but the county squads won’t have any collective training until they’re officially allowed to do so in the middle of September.
That certainly isn’t what’s going on right now in other counties and it’s difficult to know if the crackdown the GAA announced last week will have any impact in practice. Will clubs blow the whistle on their own county teams and all that this might entail? Maybe they will but I wouldn’t bet on it.
For our part, it’s definitely right and proper that Mayo GAA is showing leadership on this contentious issue. Clubs deserve to get top priority at this point in time as the on-field activity resumes. By working together county and club management teams can help to ease players back into action in a more structured way.
Assuming this arrangement holds over the coming weeks, it should result in a more harmonious relationship between county and club management teams. Given all the skin and hair flying on this issue all over the country right now that certainly won’t be the case in every county.
You’d never know, the approach we’re reportedly taking right now might work to the county’s favour later in the year. It could well mean that our county squads are better prepared for action and are raring to go once collective training at county level resumes in mid-September.