The John Horgan column: GAA clubs were shown to be poor relation yet again

The John Horgan column: GAA clubs were shown to be poor relation yet again
Eddie Brennan, Kilkenny, scores against Cork in 2010 despite the challenges of John Gardiner, 5, and Brian Murphy, 4. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

LAOIS hurling boss Eddie Brennan and Offaly chairman Michael Duignan did not hold back when criticising the GAA for the stance that they took on the club versus county battle.

Since a commencement date was issued to the clubs and the county teams on their return to the playing fields and the approach to training for both, the column inches in the various newspapers have been filled with the refusal of inter-county team bosses to accept the directive that was given that they should not commence their preparations until September 14.

The clubs were meant to be given a clear run at giving their teams the best possible chance to impact on the various championships that they compete in and that their inter-county players should be available to them.

But every dog in the street is aware that’s not the case and more often than not they are involved in what has been termed underground inter-county training.

The GAA’s stance on this has been nothing short of bewildering, President John Horan and Director-General Tom Ryan saying that there is no punishment in the offing for offending counties but, at the same time, invited people to ‘call them out’ That’s some contradiction.

Duignan, the former Offaly All-Ireland medal winner did not hold back in his assessment of what’s going on.

He said he was detecting a deep chasm between club and county over the ongoing issue.


“I am totally disillusioned by the continuation of inter-county training through what has been designated as a club window.”

Michael Duignan, Offaly, in action against Brian Corcoran, Cork, in 2000. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
Michael Duignan, Offaly, in action against Brian Corcoran, Cork, in 2000. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Brennan did not hold back either: “The GAA have said that there will be no sanctions for counties not adhering to the window, the window that has been given to the clubs.

“What’s that supposed to mean. To me it’s a Pontius Pilate job from the GAA’s hierarchy. It’s like putting seven or eight lads into the vault of a bank and telling them, right lads there’s no sanction if the money goes missing.”

Unfortunately, little notice is being taken of what these two former greats are saying.

In fact, what we have now seems to be a mini civil war between the GAA, the GPA, and the CPA, the latter two seemingly not singing from the saying hymn sheet.

The GPA were recently looking for their members insurance to be reinstated to cover the weeks before the permitted return to collective inter-county training in the middle of September.

Meanwhile, the CPA were calling for drastic penalties to be imposed on counties who break the rules.

And the GAA are not prepared to enforce what they themselves set out.

It’s a mess, but what’s new. This has been going on for donkey’s years, inter-county managers trying to ride roughshod over everybody else.

The inter-county scene was recently described by somebody as a ‘runaway train’, not a bad description at all.

This is an unprecedented season, something never experienced in our lifetime and, hopefully, never again.

The clubs of the country were put first in getting their condensed season done. They were given over eight weeks, meant to be uninterrupted, to prepare for their games. It was a big ask, but one that was, for the most part, going to be met.

However, inter-county managers, not every one of them, are not prepared to go along with that.

It’s not that their players were going to be sitting at home with the remote control in their hand.

They are training and playing games with their clubs and keeping fit and remaining sharp.

Now, if a player or players on a club team find themselves out of their club championship earlier than the date set for a return to the inter-county team, they should join up immediately with their inter-county manager.

Otherwise the club should have the full call on them.

Of course, inter-county bosses want the best preparation, we all do, but it’s going too far altogether.

Inter-county players are professional now in all but name, the hours that they are putting in in some counties are greater than a top Premier League team.


And things are starting to give, players are walking away now much earlier because of the demands on them.

But is it ever going to change? Probably not in the immediate future.

The clubs have been wonderful during the crisis of the past few months, their input into the local community has been immense.

And for just once they should be given the stage to themselves for the time that has been allotted to them.

The inter-county team will still have ample time thereafter to get their house in order.

And let’s face it, 90% of inter-county players this season know the drill, they will fit back in seamlessly when the time comes to re-join their inter-county set-up.

But just this once, let the club manager have everybody at his disposal and available for whatever challenge games he may arrange.

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