Stephen Rochford would've been crazy not to ignore the GAA's April 'black out' 5 years ago

Stephen Rochford would've been crazy not to ignore the GAA's April 'black out'

If you pretend for a second that the GAA's proposed inter-county 'black out' for April wasn't a pointless idea anyway, how they've gone about trying to introduce the thing has been pathetic.

Just to make it clear, giving clubs the month of April helps nothing in the first place. Most of them have April as it is - they muddle through without their county stars for league games and, still, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, they're told to hold off, they're told their fixtures have been changed, they're told to cancel summer holidays only to then end up playing their most important games in October.


But even if it was a useful exercise, to make April a club-only month, it's already been deemed futile by various counties' reactions but, most importantly, by the GAA's limp implementation of the idea which isn't so much a rule as it is an aspirational state of mind.

Director General Paraic Duffy actually thought it was going to help - funny how we can already use the past tense to highlight how wrong he was, five months out.

"In April, I think you're going to have a lot of league games in counties, giving a regular series of games," Duffy said of the April 'black out'.


He then proceeded to undermine the whole thing and basically reinforce the notion that it's completely up to the counties themselves if they want to bother with this or not.

"The real issue is, will managers let county players play? And that's something that every county has to work out for themselves.

"We can't enforce that. That will probably be an issue."

But sure it's there anyway - if you want.

"But the weekends are there exclusively for clubs so it should make a huge difference," he said, even though he can't enforce it and even though he knows it's going to be a problem.


Of course it's going to be a bloody problem. Why on earth would any county manager want to give up their players for the month of April? Really, why? Trying to make them out to be the bad guys in this scenario is not going to work.

Take Mayo's example. They play Galway on May 13. Mayo have lost to Galway two years in a row. They haven't been to a Connacht final since 2015. Stephen Rochford would be out of his mind to think that it's okay to lose his players for a month and get them back with less than two weeks to go 'til the championship.

Never mind the fear of players getting injured in those club games that Duffy wants them to be partaking in two weeks out from the inter-county championship, but how are Mayo supposed to prepare properly for Galway and another long summer if they actually followed the GAA's useless advice which, by the way, doesn't even really help club players anyway?




Mayo are actually doing it alright as it is. Clubs will have their county players for the first two weekends in April, then Rochford is taking the squad on a training camp on April 11 to April 18th - which is a good idea because, you know, he's preparing for a championship where they'll have to beat Dublin if they want to win it.

There's another league game before the end of April but county players will not be permitted to play in that round.

If this isn't a two fingers up from Stephen Rochford to the GAA and their 'leave April free' idea, it's just ignorance of it and, in truth, it's such a silly, unreasonable and unhelpful strategy that you'd actually judge Mayo for paying any heed to it at all.