I’m still scratching my head about all those resolutions on player burnout that were passed at that Special Congress yesterday. You know the one, the event hailed by GAA capo di tutti capi Nickey Brennan as a “spectacular” day for the GAA and, in particular, for clubs. Well, at least that spectacularly idiotic proposal to scrap the Minor and U21 grades got shot down in flames but I’m not sure about how smart all those motions that did get passed will fare out in practice. Putting in place bans on collective training by counties in November and December (is individual weight training outlawed too?) and restricting the sizes of county panels for both the league and the championship don’t sound to me like measures that will do anything meaningful to tackle burnout and will instead either (a) become a complete pain in the hole or (b) be completely ignored by all concerned. Johnno has already come out strongly against the banning of collective training and I think he’s dead right.
Other moves such as playing extra-time in some (though not all) championship games make sense as far as they go (it would have been better to take the power to blow the final whistle away from the ref – that would eliminate 90% of replays straight off) but none of the measures passed will make all the problems go away. Call it shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic. Or squeezing a balloon. Or the phenomenon that economists, in one of their sluttier moments, have described as “the waterbed effect“. There are a few essential root cause issues here which, as long as they prevail, will mean that player burnout and everything that goes with it remains a problem. Every potential solution that doesn’t address the root cause will simply mean that the trouble gets shifted somewhere else.
One fundamental problem has to do with the GAA’s timetable (it’s almost a misuse of that word to describe it thus) and, by extension, the entire structure and organisation of club and county competitions. It’s all over the shop: a Connacht championship, involving seven teams, that takes well over two months to run, weeks of idleness for anyone who falls at the first hurdle, most county teams bone idle from the end of July, the league running too close to the championship, the Sigerson clashing with the resumption of inter-county activity, etc. etc. etc. The second relates to the at times mindblowing ineptitude and lack of organisational know-how in county boards (the terms “piss up” and “brewery” spring to mind) whose games administration ability makes the African Cup of Nations look like a well-run event.
I feel a rant coming on but, although I have the inclination, I don’t have the time right now. Instead, have a read at what Paidi O Se says in today’s Indo. I don’t agree with everything he has to say but his comment about our closed season last year having been the months of August, September, October, November and December hits the nail on the head fairly well, I think. (He also reckons we need a good league run this year to show all and sundry what we’re made of. Fat lot of good that did for us last year, Paidi.)
Crikey – is that the time? The throw-in at Cong is due to take place in five minutes. What bauble is up for grabs this morning, I wonder? Given the location, something like the Ashford Castle Weekend Getaway Special Perpetual Trophy might be appropriate. More later, if I manage to get news of the result.