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Paul Leopold of Sarsfields keeps the sliotar at arms length away from Blarney's Mark Coleman during the Premier U21 hurling championship match in Ballygarvan. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Paul Leopold of Sarsfields keeps the sliotar at arms length away from Blarney's Mark Coleman during the Premier U21 hurling championship match in Ballygarvan. Picture: Howard Crowdy
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O'Donovan warns GAA volunteers are in danger of burnout due to increasing number of competitions

THE increased number of competitions in underage and adult GAA along with the expanded inter-county season will put huge pressure on club volunteers next year.

Cork County Board senior administrator Diarmuid O'Donovan fears the non-playing members of the GAA are facing “burnout” due to the demands placed on them facilitating all the grades in hurling and football.

With underage games now coming under the Rebel Óg umbrella and new adult competitions like the U21 premier tier in hurling, Cork GAA has never been busier. 

Yet Glen Rovers and St Nick's club man O'Donovan, writing in the report which will be distributed at this Sunday's convention in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, fears there is too much pressure on volunteers.

“The current practice of completing the vast majority of our 19 county championships in October is questionable. Rather than wait until the inevitable clashes, I would implore clubs, incoming county board and divisional officers to give serious consideration to how, and when, we want our games to be played and our championship completed.” 

Next summer sees the first round-robin Munster hurling championship take place, as well as the Super 8s in football which will further restrict the club calendar.

“The expansion has exposed many club volunteers in to giving commitments that they are really not in a position to maintain.

“We constantly hear of player burnout. There is an equally serious but silent burnout at work in this section of the GAA community. As someone who is constant contact with many non-playing volunteers, it appears more and more of their reflection is 'do I really want to go through that again next year?'

“Our fixtures programme needs to be reviewed, not just for the same of the players, but for the hundreds of people behind the scenes.” 

In his review of the year in the report, long-serving secretary Frank Murphy notes that completing the leagues this year was problematic.

“Once again the two weeks prior to the cut-off date for ordinary league games descended into chaos with teams failing to agree fixtures, conceding or failing to field,” he writes.

“While playing the finals and play-off stages will always create some difficulties, there were an inordinate number of requests for postponements... mainly to accommodate non-playing events.” 

Per the report, there were 224 county football league games played in 2017, down from 282 the year before, even though the divisions were redrawn from four to five tiers. On the hurling front there were 87 matches in the revamped RedFM SHL, down from 121, though 184 ties took place from Divisions 1 to 4, up from 175 in 2016.

Ballincollig's Luke Fahy passes through Clon's Maurice Shanley's block in the Kelleher Shield final. Picture: Ger Bonus
Ballincollig's Luke Fahy passes through Clon's Maurice Shanley's block in the Kelleher Shield final. Picture: Ger Bonus