THE clubs responsible for running the Killeigh parish underage club, Na Fianna have issued a passionate plea for the Offaly GAA County Board to shelf proposals to force each club to field their own teams for Go Games – proposals that will be voted on at the next County Board meeting in mid March.
The chairman of two of the three clubs in the Na Fianna underage amalgamation, Ballinagar's David Gorry and Raheen's John Hackett were both very critical of the County Board and chairman Tommy Byrne for coming up with the proposals to bar big independent teams from Go Games when they met the Tribune last Saturday evening.
Go Games are a series of blitz type games for U-7, 9 and 11 age groups for football and hurling where the emphasis is on fun, enjoyment and participation rather than the competitive championships that come on stream from U-13 up.
A big feature of life in Offaly football in particular in recent years has been the emergence of very successful parish underage amalgamations – Na Fianna (the Killeigh parish clubs of Ballinagar, Clodiagh Gaels and Raheen, who have won both underage football and hurling titles), St Broughan's (Clonbullogue parish, Bracknagh, Clonbullogue and Walsh Island) and St Vincent's (the Daingean parish clubs of Ballycommon, Cappincur, Daingean and Kilclonfert) have all won underage titles in the past few years while St Manchan's Gaels (Ballycumber, Doon and Erin Rovers along with Tubber) have begun to challenge.
It has seen traditionally strong big town clubs such as Clara and Edenderry struggle a bit, though Tullamore have remained competitive without being dominant, and the parish teams and their adult clubs (who have responsibility for running them and their goverance) have reacted with anger to the proposals to force them to field separate teams at Go Games level – they fear this will lead to their eventual break up in the older age groups and John Hackett urged last week: “Why fix what is not broken? It is working for us and others and we want to be allowed stay as we are.”
Tommy Byrne told the January meeting of the County Board that the proposals were not part of a wider plan to limit the strength of parish independent teams.
“We want to regulate them and watch what is happening with numbers. The main focus is that we don't have dug outs full of players. We want our players playing because if they are in the dugout, they will go off playing some other sport the following year or playing nothing at all. We are not trying to break up independent teams, we are trying to regulate numbers so that everyone is getting a chance to play.”
However, both David Gorry and John Hackett have insisted that they have no problems with players sitting in dugouts and not getting games; that they bring up to three teams to each blitz and everyone gets games. They also pointed out that when they had the numbers, they have fielded B teams as well as A ones in the U-13, 15 and 17 age groups.
Both club chairmen are seething at the proposals and emphatically declared that they won't risk breaking up the Na Fianna formula by fielding separate teams at Go Games levels and they have said that Clodiagh Gaels are standing with them on this. “We won't put out Go Games teams on our own,” stated David Gorry, adding that they wouldn't have the numbers in some grades.
Contined on page 56.