County board chiefs have slammed Central Council’s decision to back the proposal to finish the club championships in a calendar year.
Top-brass in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Waterford believe the decision to condense the club calendar, mooted by the Football Review Committee (FRC), will cause fixture chaos and force dual counties to commence local championships as early as mid-March.
Waterford chairman Tom Cunningham and his Dublin counterpart Andy Kettle said dual counties are already struggling to meet present deadlines.
Croke Park top-brass, added Kettle, will be forced to bring forward the playing of the league and All-Ireland U21 competitions to accommodate the FRC’s proposal.
Moreover, Cunningham and Galway chief executive John Hynes believe the struggle to run off club fixtures under the proposed format will lead to the abolition of the 13-day rule.
“We’ll have to have a serious look at restructuring our club championship,” said Waterford chairman Cunningham. “An earlier start might have to be looked at, but then you are looking at impinging on the closing stages of the league. I am not in favour of it.
“The 13-day rule may have to be shortened or removed altogether to allow club and inter-county fixtures coincide during the summer and ensure all calendars are met.
“We are talking about ensuring club players are playing through the summer, but this move is going to make it very difficult. If a county is progressing in the All-Ireland championship, club action will have to come to a halt. Club players could be the sufferer in all this. An inter-county player could also be hit, in that they will be out every week during the summer, trying to balance club and county duties. We hear a lot about the welfare of players and I am not sure this move caters for that.”
Cork PRO Tracey Kennedy called for the decision to be revisited prior to its mooted 2016 introduction, claiming a shortened club calendar will create “an incredibly difficult situation”.
“We’d hope there would be further reflection on this decision to meet the needs of all counties,” she said.
“We already start our club championships on the first weekend of May in order to be finished for the current Munster deadline. Such deadlines will now be brought forward. Are we now going to be putting out clubs in April or possibly earlier? That is going to have a huge impact on many levels.
“If your club championship coincides with the final stages of the league, it is going to lead to an incredibly difficult situation, more so when you are a dual county with dual players. Take into consideration the Munster minor and All-Ireland U21 championships are already running that time of year. It’s going to be very difficult.”
Added Kettle: “It is going to necessitate a lot of other moving to facilitate this proposal. What Páraic Duffy said is that they would put together a committee where they would look at all aspects of the fixtures programmes. While it wasn’t said, it was hinted the All-Ireland finals may be brought forward by a week. Everything is up for grabs. This year, the All-Ireland U21 football championship cost us a round of our local championship. Why does U21 football start early in the year and U21 hurling not start until May and run as it does until mid-August? That would be one particular competition I think should be looked at.”
Galway’s Hynes said the move will put undue pressure on fixture-makers. “We have 80 clubs in Galway. Of that 36 are exclusively hurling, 34 are exclusively football and 10 dual clubs. Where are we going to pull the hurling and football weekends to complete our programme within the year? I would see the 13-day rule being scrapped to free up weekends during the summer. Our club championship is not straight knockout. It is possible that structure may have to be condensed and straight knockout may have to be introduced.”
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