It always takes a rain storm to produce a rainbow and perhaps that truism was to the fore in the minds of Anthony Moyles and his colleagues in the Club Players Association launching their alternative fixture plans to ‘Fix the Fixtures’ issue within the GAA.
This morning across the Association those charged with getting games played at every level will be glancing over Plans Green, Purple and Purple Plus and looking to see if they have potential or where they may fall down.
Back at the start of the year when the formation of the Club Players Group, despite protestations to the contrary, had a deeply antagonistic tint on all sides, the idea of reflection of this nature might have seemed a long way away.
The initial launch press conference, with fourteen pairs of folded arms behind a long table in Ballyboden St Enda’s was missing only a few balaclava’s and it would have drawn comparison to Army Council meetings of a different flavour altogether.
Late night press releases on the eve of Paraic Duffy’s Annual Report were timed, perhaps a little more by design than accident to cause anger rather than progress and a call that everything should be put on hold until they had published a comprehensive report after consultation with members did not go down well.
Roll forward six months though and there is a calmer sense that maybe, just maybe it doesn’t have to be them and us.
Anyone who has dealt at an administrative level within the GAA will understand that change does not come quickly. That can sometimes be said to be a bad thing but the test of time shows that it is a combination of the energy of youth, as represented by players, and the wisdom of the elders, generally wearing suits, that produces the best results.
Everybody wants to keep the GAA as a vibrant community organisation that appeals on a national and an international stage.
In many ways the Association is a little like a bumblebee or a jet aeroplane. when you look at it this shouldn’t really work but it does. That’s the background to how change can be affected to keep everything in place long into the future.
The CPA plans have two common themes, that the Inter County season be split with Allianz league running February and March and the Provincial and All Ireland Championships being played from May to August; and that the Club Championship Calendar be similarly split using April for initial stages and September to November for the business end.
The devil is as ever always in the detail. The third level competitions will need to be borne in mind and note taken that incoming GAA President John Horan is of that world.
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Of greater concern is that the fixture plans appear to rule out any form of Super Eight in Football which has already been adopted for three years from 2018 or the mirror in Hurling which is before Special Congress in the Autumn.
Our sense is that those changes will quickly find favour among fans and the wider GAA community, especially as they pitch the best against the best over more games in more locations.
Ignoring them risks making this series of proposals easier to knock but that would be a mistake.
There is also the factoring in of International Rules games against the AFL and the traditional County Team holidays but all of those should be possible to adapt.
There is nothing that cannot be solved by talking through the issues, finding compromise where it is needed to overcome a blockage and treating all parties with respect.
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That has happened in far more intractable looking situations than in ‘Fixing the Fixtures’ and that is one thing which, even when frustration rises, should always be remembered.
The Green, Purple and Purple Plus plans need to be looked at and responded to in an open ended way to continue the dialogue.
With a rainbow, the search for a crock of gold will always be fruitless. We are not looking for that here, just an opportunity to keep the GAA doing what it does best, providing games and as vibrant a sense of who we are as is possible.