By Eoghan Cormican
Club footballers in 20 counties have not a single championship game to look forward to this month, making a mockery of April’s status as a club-only month.
An Irish Examiner survey has found the majority of county boards have ignored the freeing up of April from inter-county activity to begin their respective county championships.
In Ulster, club footballers in all nine counties are being starved of championship fare until late summer and early autumn. In Derry and Donegal, it will be September before their football championships throw-in.
Three counties in Connacht and seven in Leinster have also passed up on the opportunity to utilise April to commence their football championships.
Clare is the sole Liam MacCarthy county which is waiting until after the provincial round-robin series to begin its hurling championship. Club players in Clare, along with several other counties, have to be content with league action in the weeks and months ahead.
This notion of April being a club-only month - a joke really when you consider how the Allianz hurling league running two weeks beyond deadline has forced the postponement of club fixtures in Tipperary and Kilkenny - has brought about little improvement in terms of inter-county players being released back to their clubs.
The Mayo SFC gets underway this weekend but once those games are out of the way and with the second round a long way off, clubs won’t see much of their star players before Mayo’s Connacht quarter-final against Galway on May 13. At least the Mayo county board put on a round of championship games this side of May 13. The same cannot be said for Galway.
“It is positive to see nearly all of the dual counties beginning their championships this month as they realise it is not feasible to leave them until later in the year,” said Club Players Association chairman Michael Briody.
“We’ve heard of certain inter-county managers having their requests to limit club action this month turned down and that’s encouraging too.”
Briody added: “I’m not surprised to see a lot of counties not using April to begin their championships. The feedback we got from players in one county is that they would prefer to play it all together at the back end of the season, as opposed to a round or two now and then a three or four-month break.”
Hurling and football championships not commencing until July. Clare is the sole county in Munster not to schedule championship games for this month.
Colleges/divisional section, in both codes, already complete. Cork SFC kicks off this weekend. The remainder of round 1 games will be played next weekend.
Round 1 of the Cork SHC will be played on the weekends of April 21/22 and 28/29. Round 2 of the Cork SHC and SFC provisionally pencilled in for July 15.
Two rounds of the Limerick SHC will be run off on April 21/22 and 28/29, with the third round of group games pencilled in for mid-July. Round 1 of group games in the Limerick SFC was played last weekend, round two is this weekend. Round 3 will be mid-July.
County senior football championship (Bishop Moynihan Cup) does not begin until September. Kerry senior club football championship (a competition separate to the county senior championship) began last weekend, as did the county junior and intermediate football championship. Senior club football championship continues this weekend. Final round of group games on April 15. Plan is to have it wrapped up before Kerry commence their Munster campaign on June 2.
There’ll be no Kerry SHC this month.
The Allianz hurling league running two weeks beyond deadline has had major implications for club activity in the Premier County, particularly the divisional hurling championships which were supposed to get off the ground last weekend. Round 1 of the senior and intermediate hurling championship go ahead next weekend.
Round 1 of the county senior and intermediate football championship are pencilled in for the weekend of April 22.
Rounds 1 and 2 of group games in the Waterford SHC will be done and dusted by close of business tomorrow evening. A hiatus then until July 1.
Rounds 1 and 2 of group games in the Waterford SFC are scheduled for the weekends of April 14/15 and 21/22. No further action then until July 15.
Not a single football championship game will be played before Galway’s Connacht SFC quarter-final against Mayo on May 13. First round of Galway SFC is earmarked for May 19/20.
First round of group games in the Galway SHC takes place this weekend. Second round is on April 22. Third round is August 12 or September 9, depending on how Micheál Donoghue’s charges fare in their defence of Liam MacCarthy.
Local football championship starts last weekend of July; 12-team senior championship, two groups of six. Leitrim have an early start on the provincial front, they play New York on May 6.
First round of group games in the county senior and intermediate football championship is this weekend. Nothing else planned this side of county’s provincial opener on May 13. Mayo SFC is a 16-team competition, divided into four groups of four.
Rounds 1 and 2 of group games taking place on April 14/15 and 21/22. Kevin McStay said after their Division 2 final win that Roscommon won’t train again until Tuesday, March 24.
No county football championship this month. Indeed, the draws for the Sligo SFC have not yet taken place.
No county championship in either hurling or football this month. No club hurling league across final two weekends in April because Antrim’s Joe McDonagh Cup campaign begins on May 5. Football league hasn't started yet. Respective championships will throw-in at the end of August.
No county football championship this month. Draw for Armagh SFC has yet to be conducted. New format this year. Seeding of championship groups tied to league competition.
No county championship this month. Plenty of league fixtures, mind. Cavan JFC scheduled for the end of July. August start for Cavan IFC and SFC.
Senior club footballers have to wait until September 9 for championship fare. A revised ‘League Cup’, which will not involve county players, commences in early May. Derry JFC and IFC commence on August 12 and 26 respectively.
Club footballers in Donegal will be starved of championship fare until September. In 2015, ‘16 and ‘17, the opening round of the Donegal SFC was played on the first weekend of May, before a three-month hiatus where the county senior team took priority. This year, the decision has been taken to postpone the start of the Donegal football championships until after the inter-county season is over.
No Down SFC games until August.
First round of games in the senior, intermediate and junior football championships scheduled for end of August. County players will be available to their clubs for certain league games this month.
First round of Monaghan SFC is down for August 19. Including last weekend, six rounds of the league will be played before the county’s Ulster championship opener on May 20. County players will not be available to their clubs for all six rounds.
Club players won’t see championship action until after Tyrone exit the race for Sam Maguire.
No championship this month, in either code. Carlow hurlers begin their Joe McDonagh Cup campaign on May 5, footballers are out on May 13. First round of Carlow hurling and football championship scheduled for mid-July.
Hurling championship began on Thursday and first-round games continue this weekend. Back-to-back All-Ireland club champions Cuala begin the defence of their Dublin crown today. Second round fixed for April 19/20/21. New-look Dublin SFC begins on April 12. Second round is spread across April 26/27/28. No dates posted for final round of group games in either code.
Kildare SFC throws-in on the May bank holiday weekend (May 5-7). This round decides seeding for group stages (four groups of four) which are pencilled in for the second weekend of August.
Round one of the Kilkenny SHC, initially scheduled for March 31/April 1, had to be scrapped owing to Storm Emma and Kilkenny’s league progression. Round 2 on April 14/15 is going ahead. That’s that ahead of Kilkenny’s Leinster SHC opener on May 13. Last year, as was the case most years, there was one round of club championship in April and two more in May before Kilkenny began their provincial campaign.
Eight-team senior hurling championship begins on July 19. The football championship begins on July 26. League fixtures pencilled in for every weekend this month.
July 29 start for Longford SFC (12 teams, three groups of four).
Plan is to start the senior, intermediate and junior football championships in late June or early July.
Senior football championship (12 teams, two groups of six) starts this weekend. Second round in a fortnight. County players will continue to train with Meath in between the two rounds. No hurling this month.
Hurling championship began last weekend. Football kicks off this weekend. More hurling championship next weekend (April 14/15) and football the weekend after that (April 21/22). That gives the Offaly football camp a three-week run-in to their Leinster preliminary round meeting with Wicklow on May 13.
July start for local hurling and football championships.
First set of round-robin games in 12-team senior football championship (two groups of six) is this weekend. Second round next weekend. First round of Wexford SHC (same format as football) going ahead on April 21/22.
It’ll be early July before club footballers line out for the opening round of the senior, intermediate and junior football championship.