Saturday, 28 March 2015

No club football in county for 11 weeks

Two weeks ago we highlighted the situation where there is almost no club championship football in the county for a 10 to 11 week period. I have received several letters and e-mails on the subject. There is one other letter in the Sports Column this week and I wish to acknowledge all the other players and club officials who contacted me on the subject. I am going to publish the following letter from a club player which sums up the problem faced by ordinary club players in the county. - Seamus Duke


 Having read your article in last weekís column in relation to club football in Roscommon over the summer months,or the lack off it, I felt compelled to voice my opinion. I noticed in your column that you got feedback from former intercounty managers and players, well while my voice is not as esteemed as the aformentioned, I do feel it is one that comes with even more appreciation and understanding of the issue.

  I am ordinary every day club footballer, never made it to the elite level of football and in the autumn of my fooballing days. Having played club football in the county for almost a decade I am all too familiar with this crazy mid-summer break or silly season as I call it. Before I start my rant I want to clarify that I am not anti county but more so pro improving the overall standard 

  From my position which is very much on the outside looking in, it appears that the entire club calendar is centre around the county panel.  Now think about it in terms of numbers, there are 30-35 players on the county panel. 

  There are, not including the junior B championship, 40 club teams in the top three championships. Assuming an average panel of 25 (most likely higher in most cases), that gives you a total of 1000 club footballers on the county, 965 of whom have nothing to play for in the summer months. Thatís 96.5% off all adult footballers. Itís a frightening statistic and it will remain this way unless highlighted in facts and figures. 

  While I know the argument can be made that the county teams have been going well in the last two to three years, the fact is, that this is so because the elite footballers are being primed to compete with the rest of the country what the rest of us Ďaverage Joesí are be pushed in to the corner like school kids and told to wait there until were  told that we can go out play. The problem with his approach if that the good get better, while the rest of us get out the way. Because of the grooming system of the top footballers there is an enormous gulf of class between the top 30 footballers in the county and the next top 30 players, let alone the last group of 30. And itís basically a tragedy when the county team picks up a few injuries, because the strength and depth isnít there within the club system, but then again how could it be ?

  The only way to improve the club scene and in-turn  provide a wider base of better quality footballers for inter county standard, is to provide a higher quality and more consistent club calendar. For all my raving I do have a solution, which I feel could be easily introduced with the minimum of fuss.

  Firstly, I would start the league a little later in the season and possibly introduce and divisional league for the months of February and March. Four or five matches early in the year in a structured system where clubs would be able to get their seasons going. Secondly, the league system currently consists of 12 team in each division, I would reduce this to 10 with two up and two down in terms of relegation and promotion. With the league winners getting automatically promoted and second and third playing off the second promotion spot. This will give tighter and more even divisions and also have two less rounds of games which will  facilitate the extra championship games I am about to suggest 

  Lastly, I would change the championship from three groups of four to two groups of six, a system that is currently running in a number of counties. The top team in each group go straight to the semi-finals while teams two and three play off to make the other too semi-final spots. Team 4 builds for next year while teams five and six play off to avoid relegation. 

  It sounds like a lot of extra co-ordinating it isnít there are two extra groups games and the rest of the fixture schedule runs the same. (Please note the by reducing the league you will have made room for these two extra championship weekends). 

  As you can probably gather this is something I feel strongly about and is something the I have put a lot of thought into over the years as I have meandered through what is ultimately a wasted club career. At the end of the day unless you leave the system in a better position than you entered it then nothing has been achieved.

Yours most sincerely 

(Name and Address with the Editor)

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Issue dated: 15 June 2012
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