Tipperary chairman John Devane believes the proximity of the club and county windows to each other are “impractical” and county players could suffer as a result.
As counties begin this week to finalise their championship fixtures, Tipperary are one county hoping to add an extra round to their competitions as a result of the extra two weeks provided from Croke Park.
Cork won’t make any decision about their structure until they know when their county teams are involved in Championship fare. Clare hope to conclude their championships a week earlier as a result of the additional fortnight while Limerick, who are aiming to complete their revised championship draws tomorrow night, hope to start the senior competitions a week earlier on July 26.
Tipperary will look to use the extra time for quarter-finals following group stages and aim to organise their county finals in late September while giving lead-in times to their senior county teams of four weeks. However, Devane is concerned the quick turnaround between the end of the club window on October and start of the inter-county period on October 17 is damaging.
“I think it was a golden opportunity missed here to have a properly defined club window and a county window,” he said. “You could have been setting a template for the future. The difficulty would be in policing it and ensuring everyone adheres to the same guidelines but as you have it now the club season is up to October 11 and the county season starts six days later and that’s impractical.
“By all accounts, there are clubs already training for competitions that don’t start for another four to six weeks. You need a proper lead-in time and for the county players and having to answer two masters, preparing for a county final say and then the start of the inter-county championship, there’s an unfairness there from a player welfare point of view.”
Cork chairperson Tracey Kennedy stressed the board’s competitions control committee would not be making any call until they see the Championship start dates for their county teams. The Irish Examiner reported that county players were concerned club championship matches could take place past October 11 but Kennedy insisted: “We have nothing finalised. That’s the reality of it. We do not have our championship dates finalised.
“With Cork’s dual involvement, the dates for the inter-county championships are really important to us to see what we can structure around that. So we are waiting for a bit more certainty from Croke Park and the Munster Council about those dates before we finalise our championship. We haven’t made any decisions as of yet as to what we will do with the extra time. Obviously, it’s very welcome but we haven’t decided yet what we’re going to use it.”
Limerick chairman John Cregan highlighted the importance of clubs benefitting from some more time to prepare for championship action. “It’s giving clubs a little more breathing space for preparation so these two weeks are working for us and it’s working for them.
“We’d be talking about continuing on with our U21 hurling championship on July 17 and probably get our minor football and hurling up and running that weekend as well. Our senior hurling championship might then start on July 26 and we’d have three rounds of that.”
Clare had intended to finish their championships by the end of September and county chair Joe Cooney confirmed that was more possible now with the extra time. “It’s great to have the two weeks, it’s welcome news. Whether they go on the club side or the county side, we’ll try and balance it out as best we can. We might look at finishing the club championships a week earlier than we were proposing so the clubs can start a week earlier too and at least you’re helping both sides then.”
Devane warned there will unlikely be any spectators at the early championship games due to spectator restrictions. “In the first couple of weeks, the limit of people at a grounds is 200 people and that includes players and officials so effectively you can have nobody at the game and how you police that is going to be a challenge.”