Cork chiefs fear club fixtures chaos

Cork chairman Ger Lane says the county may have to change the scheduling policy for their club championships on the basis of Saturday’s Congress motions to introduce the ‘Super 8’ All-Ireland senior football championships and August All-Ireland finals.

Cork spoke against both motions but were unsuccessful in convincing others of the difficulties that will now be presented to them as the country’s biggest GAA county and their significant dual commitments.

Speaking about the All- Ireland finals being moved from September, board secretary Frank Murphy highlighted that based on their 2016 results, Cork, in the new championship schedule, would be involved in 11 or 12 weekends of inter-county action between the middle of May and the end of July meaning they would have to bring their club championships to a halt in that period.

As Lane explained, it has Cork’s long-standing policy to play off club championship games in windows during the inter-county season.

“We want to ensure clubs have a proper games schedule laid out over the summer. We run our championships intertwined with the county season. Other counties close down and play their championships and we see the passing of this as almost a reward for that.

“In our situation, we try to do our business properly. Other counties close down and that’s probably what is going to happen in Cork now where clubs may not play any championship matches until the month of August depending on how Cork get on. Most years we would expect to be in the quarter-finals at the minimum.

“Our secretary Frank (Murphy) outlined the difficulties we will be facing with the number of weekends tied up — the 10 of 11 weekends we will have inter-county activity during the summer based on what happened in 2016. It’s going to be very difficult to see where we play our club games. We opposed the motion on that basis because we looked at it very closely and we see real difficulties with our championship. It’s in now for 2018 and we will have to work with it.”

Lane felt Cork’s strong dual demands — and those of others — didn’t seem to have been considered in the voting. “We’re only looking after Cork from our point of view and whether (dual) counties were considered I’m not so sure.”

A calendar year seems the next step for the GAA but that would make life even more difficult for Cork, admits Lane. “We have 165 clubs in Cork. We have numerous dual players and dual clubs and players playing in the city with a hurling team and maybe football in West Cork. We have cases like that with Castlehaven and Douglas so it’s going to be very difficult to finish our championships.

“A calendar year would definitely pose huge problems for us. We have about 400 games in our championships and if you see the schedule of matches that we lay out at the start of the year it’s intimidating. Most counties wouldn’t have anything like that but we’re going to have to work with it if it’s in. We have no choice but I see difficulties for club games and getting them played in a proper schedule.”

The GAA said goodbye to tradition on Saturday, which Lane deemed regrettable.

“Moving the All-Ireland finals back to August, we were reared on finals in September and it’s going to be something new to all of us. People gear their year around it and Munster finals going to June may not have the same impact as the All-Ireland finals moving but it’s still a tradition. We don’t even know which All-Ireland finals are going to be first whereas we could all pin down the first Sunday and third Sunday in September.”

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