John O’Rourke urges split season in 2021 to ‘cut out lot of conflict’

John O’Rourke urges split season in 2021 to ‘cut out lot of conflict’
John O'Rourke: “At the moment, it is refreshing to be able to train with the club without having to communicate between two different parties."

Cork footballer John O’Rourke believes the GAA should consider introducing a split season in 2021.

The Cork forward has described as “refreshing” the three-month window afforded to clubs upon the resumption of GAA activity in mid-June and says a split season would cut out “a lot of the conflict” that currently exists within the association.

The split season model was considered by the fixture calendar review task force last year, but their final report concluded that “separating players entirely from their clubs for over half the year would not be desirable".

The task force also pointed out that a split season would necessitate playing the All-Ireland finals by mid-July, at the latest, and in a promotional context, “this would not be in the best interests of the association”.

Cork GAA CEO Kevin O’Donovan was a member of the review group and he doubled down on his opposition to a split season in these pages yesterday.

“I don't see cramming the inter-county season into a window and then cramming the club season into another window because we just can’t get along as the solution,” said O’Donovan.

O’Rourke, however, says a model in which club and county schedules do not overlap is worth trialling.

“It would cut out a lot of conflict between different parties,” said the Carbery Rangers and Cork footballer.

“Also, club players would know when they are going to be playing. See how this year goes, take the things that work, and bring them into next year.”

The 28-year old added: “At the moment, it is refreshing to be able to train with the club without having to communicate between two different parties. 

"It is great to be able to commit to one, to go out and give your all at club training and not have to worry about an upcoming training or game with the county.

“Club lads have never had championship this early in terms of getting a run of games throughout July and August. That’s a real positive. Normally, you are in September before you get going, there is a lot of waiting around.”

O’Rourke admits he found lockdown “difficult” and “it was a grind to get out to do stuff by yourself”. 

To now have a county championship program to look forward to is “bonus territory” and he is hopeful the revised inter-county championship will also get off the ground later in the year.

“We were just a point away from league promotion when the lockdown happened. 

"It was a bit frustrating at the time as you didn’t know if the league was going to be completed or not, but we now know those games will be played.”

Elsewhere, the Armagh county board executive has launched a formal investigation after an intermediate league game between St Paul’s Lurgan and Culloville Blues was abandoned following a mass brawl at the weekend. 

A claim also arose from the same fixture of a player being bitten on the arm.

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