Howard, a native of Clarecastle in Clare, was speaking to the Irish Examiner after the announcement of the GAA’s Champions 15 award winners honouring the best players in the 2013 Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher hurling championships.
Howard — disappointed by the omission of Kerry’s Daniel Collins and Brendan O’Leary from the Christy Ring 15 — feels finishing so early in the year shows these championships are an afterthought for the GAA.
“Finishing in early June, at best, and maybe the middle of May is not conducive to the development of hurling,” he said. “Kerry should go on to compete in the Munster intermediate hurling championship. That would give us summer hurling and a fighting chance. Right now there is no real thought given to the development of hurling in weaker counties.”
Kerry were beaten by a stoppage-time goal in the Christy Ring Cup final in Croke Park on June 8, losing to Down by 3-16 to 2-17. Goalkeeper Bernard Rochford — a native of Killeagh in Cork; midfielder Darren Dineen and corner-forward Shane Nolan all make the Christy Ring 15.
Christy Ring Cup winners Down have four men on the final 15, Kerry three; Kildare and Meath (two), and one apiece for Mayo, Derry, Wicklow and Armagh.
Meanwhile, Nicky Rackard winners Donegal receive four awards while Roscommon, beaten by 3-20 to 3-16 in the final, receive three. Monaghan, Louth, Sligo and Tyrone each receive two awards.
In the Lory Meagher Cup, Warwickshire, who won their first title after beating Longford 2-16 to 0-10, receive five individual awards. Longford receive four while Leitrim and Fermanagh pick up three awards each.
Christy Ring Champions 15: P Braniff, G Johnston, C Woods, P Hughes (Down); B Rochford, D Dineen, S Nolan (Kerry); F Ó Muineacháin, G Keegan (Kildare); S Clynch, S Heavey (Meath); D McDonnell (Mayo); P Kelly (Derry); L Kennedy (Wicklow), N Curry (Armagh)
Nicky Rackard Champions 15: C McDermot, S McVeigh, L Henderson, D Cullen (Donegal); S Curley, G Fallon, R O’Meara (Roscommon); P Treanor, T Hilliard (Monaghan); D Dunne, S Callan (Louth); L Reidy, G O’Kane-Lynch (Sligo); M Grogan, D Casey (Tyrone).
Lory Meagher Champions 15: T Goulding, E Gleeson, P Duggan, D Kennedy, S Hennessy (Warwickshire); E Daly, C Egan, J O’Brien, E Donnellan (Longford); M Poniard, V McDermott, C Cuniffe (Leitrim); J Duffy, K Kehoe, E Mahon (Fermanagh).