A WEEK can certainly be a long time in GAA circles. Seven days I mentioned how I was looking forward to hearing on what proposals the new fixture task force was going to put forward.
It did seem a bit odd that the new Tier 2 football championship was passed before the club members had a chance to hear the Task Force’s recommendations. Nevertheless with the Club Players Association (CPA) involved you felt even long term some positive change was going to materialise.
Then though the news broke this week that the CPA was stepping down from the committee as it felt the process was flawed. While not privy to any internal discussions that took place, no matter what side you are on it is not good to see the CPA remove itself from the proceedings this late.
There are numerous great things about Gaelic Games but the events this week must be deflating for the many club players, members, and coaches who have a genuine love of the games.
While there is an argument for more club championship games during the summer months, the big benefit this year in Cork was the agreement that the club championship wouldn’t recommence until August. Still not ideal for clubs but it was easier for players to plan holidays and training could be planned more effectively.
The Cork club championship draws for 2020 were held earlier this week. The new format will certainly re-energise the club championships in the short term anyway as it is a new format and change is good.
There is an argument that the first round games in recent years were seen as meaningless and lacking the edge of knock out championship.
Personally speaking from a player point of view I found the first round games as very important. Irrespective of championship format, you want to take the shortest route forward.
Yes this may provide its own challenges later in the year with a long lay off between games but this doesn’t enter the head in early April. There is a championship game to be won, simple as.
The groups have been decided and this will provide club players who are back preseason training with an extra motivation as they are aware of immediate opponents for the coming championship season.
Considering our present inter-county structures it’s totally understandable for some teams to be back training in November. What may surprise many though is some club teams are back training with championship still over four months away!
Yes this may seem mad but if players are after a substantial break from collective training and there is serious deficits in preparation well then this may be the best option. This may take a club rather than individual team focus.
Like any training programme, once player welfare and the individual player is put to the forefront of every decision then a productive development program could be run irrespective of what time of year.
The optimal solution for one team right now may be rest and recovery, which is fine too as a team may be after a long season or the players are older with many miles on the clock.
The needs may differ depending on clubs. One club team may be behind the curve in strength and power and many need to focus on that. Another team may need to focus on speed, putting in place the building blocks for higher performance later in the year.
On the other end of the spectrum there may be clubs, which need a game skill or tactical focus. This may be team or position specific but great progress could be made with the right focus. A more relaxed environment where there isn’t the distraction of upcoming fixtures, other training commitments and demanding managers!
This could involve a weekly development programme where players are exposed to a consistent stimulus. If you can educate the players why something could be beneficial then anything is possible.
You could argue that I am possibly biased in my views as I have my own athlete development and coaching business. Nevertheless, when looking at things through the eyes of the player, there is many other opportunities for progress.
The starting point for any club or team, is reviewing honestly the performances in 2019 and confirm exactly where you need to improve. Its easy for many to copy what other teams are doing or blindly copy something you read in a book or on the internet. Get your review right first and you may be surprised where the problems lie.
The International Rules is back in the limelight with a two game series confirmed for 2020 and 2022. There will always be divided opinion with some counties losing some of their best young talent to the professional game.
It is a great opportunity from a player’s perspective though, getting a chance to represent your country and compete against professional athletes.
Outside of the provincial and All-Ireland honours it can be another reward for excelling in your chosen sport. The international rules concept benefits mainly the very best players. It is still a must that the lower tier players who train just as hard as the top counties are looked after.
There have been many additional promises with the new Tier 2 competition. Let’s hope those players get the rewards also for consistent high performance in 2020.
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