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Thursday 19 October 2017

Time to consider player welfare for our club personnel

Billy Dodd's Football Analysis

Billy Dodd
Billy Dodd

With all interest in inter-county affairs finished for 2017, it is now time for the annual blitz of club games to try to get the championships finished in time.

Round two of the hurling got things going last week so this week we look forward to round three of the football fixtures. This round is crucial for a lot of clubs as they face a game that will decide whether they are chasing a title or struggling to retain their existing status.

Whatever happens results-wise, after three months of championship inactivity players will be inundated with games for the next six weeks.

Player welfare is a term often used in sports but particularly in G.A.A. Training plans, fixtures and schedules are supposedly designed around making sure young players are protected physically and mentally from the dreaded burn-out.

County teams are banned from starting training until a specified date, which we all know is strictly adhered to (yeah, right). I think the welfare of club players is one that authorities should be looking at in more detail and paying more attention to.

A prime example only occurred in our own county two weeks ago. A number of dual players in many clubs played a round of Minor hurling on Monday, Under-21 hurling on Tuesday, Junior hurling on Thursday and Minor football on Friday, all championship games.

The parents and supporters were burned out travelling and watching them, never mind the players! We can't blame the County Board because they have a small window of opportunity to get games played due to inter-county fixtures and exams, so it is difficult to see where the solution lies.

Something needs to be done to address the lack of game time for several months of the summer and then a rush of games to finish off the year. Gaelic games are supposed to be summer sports but the way fixtures for club players are panning out, it will be summer in the southern hemisphere calendar.

The CPA has made recommendations; the GPA has a plan, and specially-appointed hurling and football committees have their own ideas. Every unofficial committee in every pub in Ireland also has the perfect solution.

A meeting of minds is badly needed to find a solution that makes sense and gives club players regular games which is an urgent requirement in the G.A.A.

Research has shown that the G.A.A. is losing the interest of club players at an alarming rate all over the country, so it is time to heed the warning.

It's almost the time of year for the start of soccer season in England, and the transfer market has kept us all amused with the outrageous fees being paid.

The most ridiculous one is the €222m price tag quoted for Neymar, the Brazilian player currently with Barcelona, which includes a wage offer of €66m per year.

For that price I'd want him to score a hat-trick every week, manage the youth team, train the Under-10s every Sunday morning and sweep the dressing-rooms…in fact sweep the stadium for that money.

Lest people think he was holding out on making a decision because of his love for Barcelona, last October he signed a contract to keep him at the club.

His father is due €26m from that deal only if the player stayed until after July 31, 2017. I'd say there's a good chance he'll sign for PSG this week. Talk about keeping it in the family.

Finally, drugs testing hit the headlines on Monday morning when it was disclosed that two samples from G.A.A. teams have been lost/stolen while in transit by a courier company.

A Garda friend of mine told me that the perpetrator has been identified and is not connected to any of the G.A.A. players involved.

In the first case of its kind in Ireland, the D.P.P. has instructed that he be charged with taking the P***

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