GAA Top Brass 'Turned A Blind Eye' To Fixture Conflict - Sigerson Cup Winning Manager John Divilly
Corofin players Liam Silke and Kieran Molloy were forced to chose between club and college last Saturday due to a fixture clash which UCD's Sigerson winning boss John Divilly feels could have been avoided.
Molloy came on as a 38th minute substitute for NUI Galway in Saturday's Final, just an hour after helping his club Corofin overcome Moorefield in the All-Ireland Club Senior Football semi-finals.
The defender received a garda escort as he made a swift dash from Tullamore to Santry in less than an hour.
Silke picked up a knock after scoring a match winning goal for Corofin and watched his UCD team-mates pick up a one-point victory in Santry.
Divilly, a former All-Ireland winning defender with Galway. was a guest on this morning's OTB AM show and revealed that the GAA knew for months that Saturday's situation was a possibility.
"It's a huge problem and this potential problem was flagged last November. We flagged that if Corofin progressed then the Sigerson Final was fixed for the same day at the All-Ireland Club semi-final.
"We hear a lot of top brass in the GAA talk about respect for players and welfare and fixtures issues. They knew this could happen yet they turned a blind eye hoping that maybe no-one would be involved (in both fixtures).
"They didn't get away with it and it was very, very harsh. Fair play to Kieran Molloy for travelling up, we didn't ask (Molloy's Corofin team-mate) Liam Silke to travel up because I thought it was highly unfair to put a player in that situation.
"What needs to happen here in my view, and I'm a while in Sigerson football, is for either the current or incoming president of the GAA to sit down, not with third-level committees or ex-players, but with the 16 managers and captains in the competition and say 'look lads we want this competitions to survive and thrive, how do we do it?'"
"There's no point in bringing in inter-county managers, it's not their problem. Their problem is to deal with their teams and competitions. This is our problem. If the GAA want to really solve it, they need to sit down and stop all this fluff talk. If we don't sit down in the next few months then we'll still be talking about this in 2019."
Corofin and NUIG defender Kieran Molloy / INPHO/James Crombie
Divilly believes the Sigerson Cup can still have a bright future - if backed by the GAA.
"It can survive and it will survive, it's just a matter of how much the GAA want it to be a good competition. If they want it to be a great competition now they have a great sponsor in Electric Ireland, they do a lot of work on social media promotion. But if they want to pay lip service to it then it'll gradually decrease like the Railway Cup has.
"They have a decision to make and I really hope the new president will take it on board and listen to the people that are trying to do the work at third-level."
Young footballer of the year and UCD forward Con O'Callaghan added another national medal to his collection on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Cuala clubman has landed All-Ireland Senior Football, under-21 Football, Club Hurling and Sigerson titles in the last 12 months.
He says winning with is college is "really sweet" but admits a busy schedule meant he spent little time with UCD this year.
"I only came into the team last week, I was staying in touch, but it's a really special feeling."
Divilly says his job is to make sure players enjoy playing football while in college.
"My job is to get the best out of them, the most important thing is the academic side, they've continuous assessment and exams throughout the year now and football is a great relief and release for them.
"We have to make sure that release is positive and that they can enjoy their football."