Cork’s senior teams will be at a distinct disadvantage in their Munster semi-finals because of the size of their club championships, according to former hurling manager Denis Walsh.
The county’s ex-dual star apportions no blame on the county board as they are reflecting the scale of the county in the structure of the competitions.
However, he considers Waterford hurling and Kerry football managers Liam Cahill and Peter Keane will have an edge over their Cork counterparts Kieran Kingston and Ronan McCarthy in terms of preparations on October 31/November 1 and November 7/November 8 respectively.
There is a five-week gap between the Waterford SHC final on August 30 and the equivalent in Cork on October 3/4. Walsh, who was also in charge of the Waterford footballers in 2002 and ’03, knows hurlers will be involved in club football action in September but he maintains the gap between the hurling deciders makes a difference.
“No committee are going to solve that problem,” he stresses. “You have so many interested parties as in the clubs. You take the Waterford system, the same as Cork, 12 teams but four groups of three and it’s bang, bang, bang. The same as Wexford almost in that it’s like a tournament.
“I’m afraid that in Cork no matter what ingenuity you come up with you ain’t going to come up with a system that improves the efficiency of it right now and keep everyone happy. It’s hard to manage club competitions in 10 months never mind two months.”
Currently holidaying in Kerry, Walsh is enjoying hopping a ball or two with the locals ahead of the counties’ do-or-die Munster semi-final — “We’re blackguarding them down here that they’d hardly let a Division 3 team beat them.”
All the same, the St Catherine’s clubman regards Kerry as having a preferable preparation period, something McCarthy intimated last month. Aside from the lack of dual commitments, the Kerry senior county championship final is fixed for the weekend of September 26/27.
While club championship fixtures are expected to be brought forward from dates pencilled in for the following two weekends. Kerry’s competitions control committee have highlighted they “may and without the agreement of either team involved, change venue at short notice and play midweek games regardless of any ‘entitlements’ to home venue or weekend games.”
Walsh states: “Kerry have their competitions very streamlined and they have so many in each, a knock-out county championship as well, and no problem with the dual players. It’s fierce easy for them and yet they will still have people shouting it’s not fair but Kerry football is simple enough to get sorted out. They do have other championships like the club championship but that won’t affect them that much. They’re used to playing up to Christmas so they’re not going to bat an eyelid about that.
“Cork would be disadvantaged against them as well.
Not experienced since his playing days, Walsh doesn’t mind that the game against Kerry is a straight knock-out when for so long it appeared there would be no Championship in 2020. “Isn’t it fantastic in a way to have a one-off game? I know it might not be until November 7 or 8 but Christ it creates a bit of an edge and we have something to look forward to.”
Meanwhile, Donegal officials have not been given any indication from the Ulster Council that their Ulster SFC quarter-final game against Tyrone next October may be moved from MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey.
Sources close to the council have indicated that the game could be switched to Croke Park while provincial secretary Brian McAvoy has admitted there will hard decisions to make about venues in the coming weeks.
Manager Declan Bonner has maintained the county will do everything in their power to ensure Donegal have home advantage for the knock-out clash against their neighbours. Due to social distancing restrictions, the large terrace areas in MacCumhaill Park could prevent the game from being played there but sources close to the board executive are insisting no decision be made until next month (August) at the earliest.