The publication of the Connacht Council’s Strategic Vision and Action Plan for the period 2009 to 2015 (a pdf version of the plan is available here) has generated a fair bit of publicity over the last few days, probably because (a) there’s not that much else going on in the GAA world at the minute and (b) John Prenty appears to have used the occasion to take an ill-judged, populist shot at the size of inter-county panels.
The Council’s document is about far more than the scheduling of matches – in all there are plans for eleven different “themes” covering aspects as disparate as urbanisation and officer support – but the Council’s outspoken Honorary Secretary makes clear in the press release issued to coincide with the publication of the strategy that one issue, that of games scheduling, is of paramount importance.
Club players within the province were consulted and their feedback was, understandably, a catalogue of woe about the irregular scheduling of matches, idle summers without any meaningful games and the infuriating way in which club games are all too easily postponed. All the normal fuckology that passes for the scheduling of club games at county level, in other words.
Prenty said that county boards will, in future, have to deal with Council-appointed Fixtures Planners within each county and that the Council will work with these planners to ensure that all matches are properly scheduled. That’s all fine as it goes, even if it does make you wonder why the county boards hadn’t such planners in place already, but what Prenty says next is where it all starts to become odd. He points to an area where he says that “immediate improvements could be made”, going on to say that:
You have the situation where a county team brings up to 30 players to a league or other match, and many of those players end up as water-boys or spectators at the game – meanwhile, back at home, their club team is struggling to field a team, or has no match at all.
What’s he getting at here, I wonder? Is this merely a very thinly-veiled attack on 30-man panels (and, perhaps, the attendant cost of same) or does he seriously think that part of the solution to the problem of match scheduling is to play club games on the same days that league “or other” matches are being played? Given that no such proposal is contained in the Council strategy document (for the simple reason that it’d makes no bloody sense), one can only assume that it’s not the latter and that instead Prenty has simply used the publication of this worthy, albeit deathly dull, document to have a pop at something that annoys him. That’s a pity, given that he could instead have used the opportunity to place added emphasis on the strategic aim to provide “a structured inter-county games programme in the province to facilitate club fixtures” but I guess that’s not as much fun as raising a populist, though utterly meaningless, red herring in the way that he has.