Condensed calendar fails to free up club championships

Fifteen county football championships are running later than they did in 2017, highlighting the total lack of impact the condensed inter-county calendar has had on the club scene.

Condensed calendar fails to free up club championships

Fifteen county football championships are running later than they did in 2017, highlighting the total lack of impact the condensed inter-county calendar has had on the club scene.

An earlier finish to the national leagues and the decision to bring forward the date of the All-Ireland hurling and football finals has brought about no improvement in the time that counties are taking to complete their competitions.

The All-Ireland SFC had been whittled down to eight counties by July 8 but of those eliminated by this juncture, only Meath, Sligo, Waterford, Westmeath, and Wexford have or will finish their senior football championships earlier than was the case last year. July, by and large, was devoid of club championship action.

Of the 15 counties whose football championships are running later than 2017, all bar three — Cork, Kerry and Tipperary — ignored April as a genuine month for their clubs. Not a single Ulster county started their championship during the supposed club-only month. Seven Ulster counties are behind in concluding their senior football championship, when compared to last year. The remaining five are Galway, Leitrim, Kildare, Louth and Wicklow.

In Antrim, Derry, Donegal, and Tyrone, club players did not play their opening championship game of 2018 until September. The Monaghan and Armagh championships, meanwhile, did not throw-in until the weekend of August 25/26. In Mayo, club players were starved of championship fare between April 8 and August 25, despite the county team exiting the race for Sam Maguire on June 30.

Four hurling championships — Clare, Limerick, Tipperary, and Offaly — are running later than 2017. Offaly and Tipperary’s involvement in the hurling championship was over by June 3 and 10 respectively.

County boards may have had more time on their hands to complete their competitions, but with no change to the provincial deadlines, they were under little pressure to bring forward the playing of their championships. That’s the next step which needs to be taken.

CLARE

Clare were the sole county in Munster who opted not to start their respective championships in April, holding off, instead, until mid-August. Hurling final, being played this Sunday, is a week later than 2017 drawn decider. Football championship will again be wrapped up on October Bank Holiday weekend.

CORK

Hurling championship was wrapped up a week earlier than 2017 competition. Football championship — final to be played on October 28 — is running a fortnight behind the 2017 edition. Despite the first round being run off in April, there was not a single football fixture in May or June, which was a departure from recent years. Cork footballers were knocked out of All-Ireland series on July 7.

LIMERICK

Hurling championship draws to a close on October 27, two weeks later than 2017. Not one hurling championship game was played between April 29 and August 31. Football final, involving Adare and Ballylanders this coming Sunday, is finishing on the same weekend as last year.

KERRY

With the senior football final set for October 28, the Kerry championship will conclude one week later than was the case in 2017. This, despite the junior and intermediate championships being completed by the first weekend of May. Board made the decision to give teams a fortnight off before the senior quarter-finals, semi-finals and final on Sunday week.

TIPPERARY

Although April was utilised and the Premier hurlers were done by mid-June, the Tipperary SHC is, somewhat inexplicably, going to finish a fortnight later than was the case in 2017. Football championship also two weeks behind last year.

WATERFORD

Hurling programme concluded two weeks ahead of when the 2017 championship finished. The county will be represented in the Munster club SFC, unlike last year.

GALWAY

Hurling quarter-finals this weekend. Champions should be crowned earlier than December 3 date when Liam Mellows secured a ninth title last year. Senior football semi-finals this Sunday. Final, should it go ahead the following weekend, would mean a later finish of two weeks by comparison with last year. There was no football championship before Galway’s Connacht SFC opener against Mayo, a change from recent years.

LEITRIM

Leitrim SFC, of which the final was last weekend, ran a week later than in 2017. Competition didn’t throw-in until last weekend of July.

MAYO

The decision to fix the opening round of games for early April and Mayo’s elimination from the Sam Maguire race on June 30 had no impact on the county championship (decider this Saturday), which will finish on the same weekend as last year.

ROSCOMMON

Last Sunday’s football final was a week ahead of 2017 decider. Opening two rounds of the Roscommon SFC were played in April, the championship was then stagnant until mid-August.

SLIGO

Sligo SFC, which didn’t start until August 4 (county team were gone by June 23), was done and dusted a week earlier than 2017.

ANTRIM

Later finish to Antrim SFC, by a week, when compared with 2017. Final is this weekend. Involvement on inter-county front ended on June 9.

ARMAGH

Armagh also a week behind in bringing the curtain down on their senior football championship. Final is this weekend.

CAVAN

The 2018 decider goes ahead on Sunday, October 21. The 2017 championship was wrapped up a fortnight earlier, with the final on October 8. The Breffni County exited this summer’s All-Ireland SFC on June 30.

DERRY

Senior football final is this weekend, a full month behind when the 2017 decider (September 24) was played. The 2018 Derry SFC did not throw-in until September 7, three months after Derry’s elimination from the qualifiers.

DONEGAL

Donegal, like so many other Ulster counties, will finish their championship one week later than last year.

DOWN

The Mournemen were gone out of the All-Ireland championship by June 23 and yet, the county championship, which wrapped up at the weekend, finished a fortnight behind the 2017 edition.

FERMANAGH

County final played on the same weekend as last year. Earliest finish to their senior championship of all nine Ulster counties, despite going as far as round four of the qualifiers.

MONAGHAN

Scotstown won a fourth consecutive title on October 7. Monaghan SFC was finished a week earlier than 2017, despite Malachy O’Rourke’s charges remaining in the All-Ireland series until August 12, by comparison with August 5 last year.

TYRONE

Run to All-Ireland final meant the county football championship did not start until mid-September. County final is this weekend, one week behind 2017.

CARLOW

Football final was played on the opening weekend of October, the same as 2017.

DUBLIN

Despite a change in the structure of the Dublin SFC this season, county board officials decided to uphold the tradition of staging the final on the October Bank Holiday Monday. Hurling championship will conclude a week earlier than 12 months ago.

KILDARE

Football decider is this Sunday, one week behind when 2017 final was played. Kildare did commence their adult football championships before the county’s Leinster SFC opener in May.

KILKENNY

Hurling championship will again conclude on the October Bank Holiday weekend. Competition might have been run-off earlier were it not for delayed national hurling league which meant there was only one round of club championship played in April, as opposed to the scheduled two.

LAOIS

Laois SFC threw-in on July 25 and finished last weekend, the same timeframe as 2017.

LONGFORD

Longford SFC began on July 20, with the drawn final played on October 7. No change from 2017.

LOUTH

Naomh Máirtín and Newtown Blues contest football decider this weekend. Louth final was originally earmarked for last weekend, but it was decided to push the fixture back by one week given the Louth champions do not begin their Leinster campaign until November 11. Said rescheduling sees competition draw to a close one week later than last year.

MEATH

Meeting of Dunboyne and Summerhill in last Sunday’s football final meant an earlier finish, by two weeks, than last year. Meath were one of five counties to play two rounds of senior football championship in April. Top-tier action resumed on July 27.

OFFALY

Football championship wrapped up on the same weekend as last year. Hurling decider, played on October 7, was a week behind date of 2017 showpiece.

WESTMEATH

St Loman’s and Mullingar Shamrocks lock horns in Sunday’s final. Westmeath SFC is one week ahead of 2017 programme.

WEXFORD

Even allowing for a drawn county final (replay this weekend), football championship is one week ahead of 2017 edition. St Martin’s and Naomh Éanna do battle in this Sunday’s hurling decider. The latter championship is set to finish on the same weekend it did 12 months ago.

WICKLOW

Replay of football decider is set for Saturday, October 27, following a 0-13 to 1-10 stalemate between Rathnew and St Patrick’s last Sunday. Winners of the second instalment will have to entertain Rhode in the Leinster championship the following day. Inexcusable in a county which was dumped out of the All-Ireland SFC on June 9.

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