Mayo manager James Horan and All Star Aidan O’Shea have called on the GAA to introduce a national standardised fixtures plan incorporating all club and inter-county activity.
The Connacht champions played their third round of club championship games last weekend. Alongside Cork and Kerry, they have are the only sides in the last 12 to play so many club games over the summer.
Dublin played a round of their club championship in May while Donegal have called off theirs until the county is out of the All-Ireland series due to the belief that increased games means an increased risk of injury.
Therefore, Horan believes, the counties giving their club players games are being punished and he has called for a national fixed plan to be put in place in the interests of fairness.
“I said at the outset, the club games at the weekend, none of our players got significantly injured but they’re club championship games,” he said.
“Our training week before that club game, we had to reduce the training loads we put on players going into heavy club games where they will be targets for special attention. So you have to reduce your week the week before and then there was eight or nine players that couldn’t train last night because of the weekend (club action).
“So you lose significant time, whereas the Dublins or the Donegals, whoever, wouldn’t lose that week, they’re gaining a week, so it’s a double whammy. We might lose, they might gain, so things like that if it was standard across the board it suits me down to the ground.”
The county board sent a request to clubs already through to the quarter-finals of the Mayo SFC not to play their county players that weekend. Some listened, others didn’t and there is expected to be a heated upcoming county board meeting on the issue.
“There’s nothing perfect about it but if you look at us as a county, we are probably at the leading edge of club and county,” said Horan.
“That’s right throughout the years, I think one thing the county board are strong on is the club structure and the fixtures. Yeah of course there is going to be some complaints but overall I think it works really well.”
This year his squad escaped serious injury but last season they lost half a team on one weekend.
“That’s what happens. Last year I think it was the first round of the championship, we lost eight players within 45 minutes of club championship action so we need to be as careful as we can with them.”
O’Shea, who alongside his brothers Seamus and Conor, played for their club at the weekend, thinks the time has come when county players will no longer be able to play league games with their clubs.
“It’s a difficult one. I think you’ll probably see something like the cricket in England, where you play with the club and the county players, when let back, will play with the clubs. Obviously club championship will be different but for league games in particularly, I don’t think county players will play too much of it in the future.”
He added: “I think it would have benefited us if we’d the week after the Connacht final to regroup and proceed but it is what it is. We came through without any injuries but it did eat into our time before the quarter-final.”
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