OPINION: Paraic Duffy has opportunity to show courage and leadership on fixtures

CPA executive member and ex-Roscommon goalkeeper Shane Curran on the issues at play pre-Congress

Shane Curran, GAA, CPA, launch

Executive member Shane Curran at the official launch of the Club Players Association, Ballyboden St Enda’s GAA, Dublin 9/1/2017 ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Revitalise or normalise. That is the question for the GAA. Or maybe at this juncture, engagement with stakeholders on the very future of a valued organisation.

There is no doubt the GAA's games structures need radical overhauling to remain fit for purpose as we enter the third decade of the 2000s.

Successful leadership means embracing tensions though that makes the challenge much more complex.

I don't know the GAA director general Paraic Duffy. But I'm sure he's a dyed in the wool GAA man.

However, he is very wrong if he thinks Super 8s is the answer to addressing significant competition and complex fixture issues.

I'm also sure like all the good GAA men, Paraic has been a volunteer, player administrator, umpire and maybe even a referee.

I'm sure he has sacrificed many an hour coaching, administrating and dealing with many a complex issue be it club, county or Croke Park. He is without doubt a hardworking and, from afar, an engaging personality.

For the most part he has gone about his work in a diplomatic and professional manner.

But now as we come towards one of the most important GAA Congresses of recent times, the GAA has a major problem.

Th Club Players Association, of which I am an executive member, was launched on January 9th 2017 and already over 20,000 players have registered as members. That is a totally astounding figure based on its relative youth as an organisation.

Paraic Duffy

From our point of view, the CPA have a mandate to act as a voice for players and their many concerns.

The GAA is seeking to impose a fixture and playing schedule that goes against the thoughts of members of the CPA. The GPA have yet to outline their stance but I'd be extremely surprised if they rolled in behind any Super 8 structure.

Now here's the crux. If both playing organisations are vehemently against the proposal, why orchestrate a campaign to ram a Super 8 proposal down the throats of the very people who are most important to the organisation: The Players.

It is the players who are saying "No" yet its the administrators who are saying "Yes".

Cad é an rud is tábhachtaí, Na clubanna na himreoirí.


Paraic Duffy can show himself to be a true Gael of substance and show real leadership - but it is not about who is correct but what is correct.

A leader whose legacy would be longer lasting than any competition structure, should listen intently to stakeholders and their concerns.

Any not-for-profit sports organisation around the world engages directly with every facet of their membership, whether it be volunteers, players and mentors when constructing significant operational development to their games. Best practice protocols should be adhered to.

Senior leaders in Croke Park must be willing to open the floodgates so players and managers closest to the club interface can discuss openly their potential resolution to conflict of the fixture system.

Best practice procedures are uniquely important when undergoing transformation of a sporting body.

The ability of a leader to acknowledge that problems exist may not resolve the tensions. But his credibility and willingness to discuss proactive ways forward together will define his legacy.

There are many route maps and suggestions for a better playing schedule; in many ways the CPA don't have to reinvent the wheel but will put forward their own proposals in due course.

It's important to stress the CPA are one of a group of parties that each require to be satisfied but are all also willing to make small sacrifices to bring a successful conclusion to the fixtures issue.

It is widely acknowledged the GAA has a fixture crisis and the desire for change is a powerful driver. Structural change without behavioural change is essentially a wasted effort .

The underlying rationale for change must be to improve the development and delivery of the games throughout the country.

We have a distance to go unless stakeholder involvement is fully engaged in the changing process.

Developing trust up and down the delivery system is a key requirement for any change in not-for-profit sporting bodies.

To be successful, volunteers and players must be part of any negotiation in change delivery.

There is no one suggesting that a revolution is the way forward. Evolution is significantly less disruptive.

The way to attain this is leadership from the leaders.

The core purpose of the GAA and its governance is to provide a model and structure to our games that is all encompassing.

The administrators of the game can take one big leap for mankind and the association first by pausing this proposal of a Super 8 until full compliance with best practice for not-for-profit sports bodies is met and secondly by engaging in meaningful dialogue with those who are the heartbeat of the Association .

Cad é an rud is tábhachtaí, Na clubanna na himreoirí , ar aghaidh go dtí tú ár n-cheannaire Pauri