Brian Cody has called on the GAA to work even harder on behalf of club players whom he claims continue to get a ‘hard time’ from fixture makers.
The 11-time All-Ireland winning Kilkenny manager, facing into his 22nd season in charge, made his comments in the wake of Wednesday’s publication of the Fixture Calendar Review task force’s report.
Aside from a number of options for overhauling the football championship, the report makes various recommendations regarding hurling, many of which are designed to free up time for club activity.
Cody said he hasn’t studied the report and hasn’t got any particular solutions of his own to help the club game, noting that the county team has to be his primary focus, but said he’s certain that club players aren’t being treated properly.
Asked if he can envisage a better situation that suits everyone, Cody said: “I think we have to. Can I envisage it? I hope so.
“I think the club scene has been really getting a hard time. You play in April and then it’s, ‘We’ll let you know when you’ll play again’ sort of stuff, ‘It could be August, whatever, we’ll see, could be September’. It’s not the best situation for the clubs and I know a lot of club players are very, very unhappy. The balance is not right, it’s just not right.”
The Club Players Association had representation on the fixtures committee but withdrew at the 11th hour in protest.
They claimed they were ignored and that their proposals for structural reform of the football championship were ignored, charges that task force chairman Eddie Sullivan rejected on Wednesday.
“Obviously things aren’t great at the moment either with communication, with representatives of the clubs pulling out of the task force thing that was going on there, at the end of those discussions,” said Cody.
“I’m not sure what was happening but there does need to be a meeting of minds on it.”
The April club window allows counties to stage games in this period and Kilkenny also took advantage of a break in the inter-county calendar during the Leinster championship for matches.
“You’re still waiting four or five months for the next game, trying to do something (training wise), whatever you could,” said Cody.
That’s not a solution. It’s difficult and I don’t have the solution for it but I would love to see something more positive happening.
The fixtures committee recommended that the Hurling Development Committee look into a potential expansion of the Munster and Leinster groups from five to six teams each.
“I don’t think you can look at it in isolation,” said Cody. “You can’t just look at the inter-county scene without looking at the club scene and the college scene and all the scenes that are there.
There’s a glut of fixtures for a number of players and the players that are being squeezed are the club players.
Meanwhile, Cody confirmed that Richie Hogan, sent off in August’s All-Ireland final defeat to Tipperary, will return for 2020.
Cody has since overhauled his backroom team, replacing trainer Michael Dempsey and selector Derek Lyng with Michael Comerford, DJ Carey and Martin Comerford.
“First and foremost, Derek Lyng and Mick Dempsey both (left). I didn’t get rid of either of those, you can be certain of that. Both voluntarily decided to leave themselves,” said Cody.