Corofin's Kieran Fitzgerald: Club v college dilemma not good enough

Experienced Corofin defender Kieran Fitzgerald has claimed that allowing a club versus college dilemma to arise two years in a row is “farcical”.

Fitzgerald is frustrated that while Corofin will have access to Liam Silke and Kieran Molloy for Saturday’s All-Ireland club semi-final tie against Gaoth Dobhair in Leitrim, the players’ Sigerson Cup plans are affected again.

Silke will be unable to play for UCD in their Sigerson semi-final against St Mary’s following confirmation that the third-level tie takes place the same afternoon in Mallow.

Molloy will at least be able to feature for NUI Galway as they were successful in requesting that their semi-final against UCC be pushed back to Sunday at 2pm.

That’s good news also for Kerry’s David Shaw who will be free to play for Dr Crokes against Mullinalaghta on Saturday and UCC on Sunday.

But it’s two huge games in under 24 hours for Molloy and Shaw while Silke, who missed last year’s Sigerson final win for UCD because of a similar clash, won’t get to play at all.

“It is farcical,” said Fitzgerald. “For two years in a row the Sigerson, which is a very prestigious competition, has been denied the two of them. I know Kieran got on for 20 minutes last year for NUIG but they were due to miss out completely this year. Then one game was moved but it still means playing twice in two days and you’re talking about player welfare.

“Our game against Gweedore will be hell for leather, no holding back and asking someone to do it again the next day is not good enough.”

Fitzgerald said the obvious answer is to complete the All-Ireland series before Christmas — something discussed for years without happening.

“Play an intermediate and a senior final under lights in Croke Park,” suggested the 2001 All-Ireland winner with Galway. “Our provincial final finished in mid-November, play the All-Ireland semi-final two weeks later and play the final two weeks after that. Even if it was a week before Christmas, or 10 days, it would be some buzz for clubs.

Then it’s over and you don’t have lads slogging around pitches all through Christmas and January and half of February. The club players get a break then too because you have this April window for clubs now and it’s all go then.

Corofin are All-Ireland series regulars at this stage, winning two of the last four titles and four of the last five Connacht titles. It’s prevented key players from taking full part in Galway’s league campaigns and a number of them chose to balance club and county in recent weeks, despite the risk of injury. “They probably saw we’re involved in the AIB All-Ireland club series again and saw a pattern developing maybe where they may not be getting a chance to take part with Galway,” said Fitzgerald. “They are under a bit of pressure to keep irons in all fires. That’s another reason to sort out the fixtures.”

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