Mike Quirke echoes calls for 'unlimited substitutes'

James Horan has also called for an increase in subs for the National League
Mike Quirke echoes calls for 'unlimited substitutes'

Laois manager Mike Quirke: 'I never understood the logic of reducing (number of subs) from six to five'. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Two leading inter-county managers have backed the idea of allowing more substitutes in this year’s Allianz Leagues.

As counties returned to collective training last night, Laois manager Mike Quirke and Mayo’s James Horan have given support in principle to increasing the number of substitutes from five so as to prevent injury and fully assess their panel.

On Sunday, former Galway boss Micheál Donoghue called for unlimited substitutes during the league. Unless the replacements are rolling ones meaning stoppages would not be required, it’s unlikely the GAA would be amenable to such a suggestion. However, as the GAA have yet to confirm their match regulations there may be a possibility to raise the number of substitutes.

“I never understood the logic of reducing the six to five,” remarked Quirke. “I think it’s the other way we should be going. You’re asking fellas in a 32, 33, 34-man panel to train as hard as they can. You should be able to give as much time and opportunity to as many fellas as possible, really, without completely disrupting the flow of a game.

In these exceptional circumstances, I think it’s a huge opportunity to have unlimited substitutes when lads are under pressure to stay playing and then pick up some injury that was probably avoidable if you were able to take him off the field.

Asked if he would support increasing the number of personnel switches during the league, Horan, whose Mayo team were drawn on the opposite side of the Connacht SFC to Galway and Roscommon, said: “In general, I would as long as it was for the right reasons, to put it in simple terms.”

Meanwhile, former Limerick hurler and manager TJ Ryan believes the 2021 edition of the Munster SHC could be the best ever.

Limerick, who are chasing the county’s first three-in-a-row of provincial titles since 1935, will face Cork in one semi-final. On the other side of the draw, Clare, for the second year running, must win three games if they are to end the county’s wait for a first Munster SHC crown since 1998. The winners of the Clare-Waterford quarter-final progress to meet Liam Sheedy’s Tipperary.

“I didn’t fully realise that a three-in-a-row in Munster hasn’t been done since the late 80s (Tipperary, 1989) and Limerick haven’t done one since the 30s, so that’ll just tell you how difficult it is. Limerick would appear to have the upper hand at the minute, but it is a new season so we will have to wait and see,” remarked Ryan.

“My honest opinion is I think we could be heading into the best Munster championship possibly ever. My reasons for saying that are: I think teams will have had the perfect preparation; players have had rest, they have had time to do all their rehab; the managers will have no sideshows as in no clubs pulling off them; the League will give teams five games to prepare for the Championship; players will be incredibly hungry for championship action after such a lengthy layoff; and we are heading into the summer, and the warm weather and scorching pace that will bring.

We are heading for fantastic fare.

Ryan added: “In a strange way, does the draw suit everybody? Will Cork really love to make a statement by taking out the All-Ireland champions? Can Clare win a game? Can Liam Cahill get a shot at Liam Sheedy? Can Sheedy get the balance right between the old and the new to get back into a Munster final? There is a huge amount to play for. And hence my statement that I just think we are heading into the best championship in a long time. The more I look at this the more I believe we are in for a treat.”

The two-time Munster SHC medallist fancies Waterford to account for Clare in the first game of the 2021 provincial championship and said Cork will need to strengthen the spine of their defence if they are to inflict a first championship defeat on Limerick since July of 2019.

“A summer championship will definitely play into the barrow of the Cork forwards. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that. I think Cork have to get their defensive set up right. If they do, they have a big shout. They have to find a consistent three and a consistent six.”

Cork and Kerry have been drawn on separate sides of the Munster SFC draw as champions Tipperary will face Clare or Kerry in their semi-final. Cork and Tipperary could have been drawn together but last year’s runners-up will face Limerick or Waterford in their last-four game.

It’s the sixth time Colm Collins will face Kerry in the championship as Clare manager having been drawn on the same side of Munster as the Kingdom for four consecutive seasons between 2015 and ‘19.

The Banner will travel to Killarney for the first round game. and forward David Tubridy knows the enormity of the challenge. “It’s a tough one. It’s one of the teams you didn’t want to see coming out of the hat against us but to win the Munster championship you have to beat the best and we’re going to be facing a Kerry team who slipped up big time last year and I think they know that they did slip up so they’ll be all guns blazing this year.

“Killarney is a tough spot to go to. I don’t think there will be any big crowds allowed in the stadiums so that might make a bit of a difference. We’re just looking forward to it and when you get a chance to play Kerry in their backyard you have to embrace it.” “Then you have Tipp, the Munster champions, on our side. It was great to see a bit of a change at the top in the Munster championship last year. For ourselves, Limerick and Waterford, it just shows you that it can be done.

The 33-year-old publican admits he was close to retiring but decided to stay on for another season after speaking to family and former team-mates. “I was thinking of packing it in this year but I made a few phone-calls to past players and had a chat with the parents. The way the bar and restaurant is closed at the moment, I could give football full attention and get fit and take on extra stuff. I never thought I’d start into pilates but I even gave that a shot this year.” Elsewhere, new Sligo manager Tony McEntee’s first championship game in charge will bring him face to face with Mayo who he worked with between 2016 and 2018. The winners of this contest will advance to play Leitrim in the penultimate round.

On the other side of the draw, Galway and Roscommon will do battle for a place in the decider. The most recent championship meeting between the counties was the 2019 Connacht final which Roscommon won in Salthill.

With London and New York not involved due to Covid travel logistical difficulties, the draw involving the five indigenous Connacht counties was the first open Connacht SFC draw since 1974.

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