Brian Cody backs August All-Ireland final to help relieve ‘suffering’ club players

Brian Cody has endorsed the idea of the All-Ireland final being moved to August if it means clubs are provided with more meaningful space in the GAA calendar.

Kilkenny’s 11-time All-Ireland- winning manager also hit out at officials who “pontificate” about the importance of the club, and insisted the All-Ireland championship had to be condensed in some way.

He admits he’s “probably the worst person to ask how it (the championship) could be improved”. But he has “no problem” with the final being brought forward a week or two to August, providing it assists club fixtures.

“Look, I’m not going to come up with a solution, I don’t have a solution. But what I do know is this; the mix with club and inter-county is not as it needs to be.

“Club players are suffering and inter-county players are club players. There’s 34 different lads on our panel and players coming in and out as needs be. But they are all club players, every Galway player there is a club player. The game is about club, club, club and it has to be. The mix is wrong, is all I can say about it.”

Without the competition of football, Kilkenny are able to put together a suite of fixtures that usually complements both the county teams and clubs. A round of club games are traditionally staged for the weekend after each Leinster or All-Ireland championship match.

But Cody knows they have difficulties like other counties in satisfying club players with games in good weather months. “It’s not enough just to leave things as it is. The time to change in everything you do is when you are going really well and things are good and strong. Yesterday’s (Sunday’s) match was a great game, the previous semi-final was a great game, last year’s All-Ireland finals were great games. That’s the time to see what can we do better.

“If you dilute the genuineness or absolute importance of the club scene — and people pontificate about it and they talk about it — but the All-Ireland championship has to be condensed into a shorter period of time in some way.” Cody said his decision this year to retire from his position as principal of St Patrick’s De La Salle Presentation Boys National School won’t make his decision on remaining on as Kilkenny manager for an 18th season in 2016 any easier.

“It doesn’t change anything. Whether I was still principal in the school or not wouldn’t change how I feel about it. I was able to marry both all along and it won’t have any influence on what I decide to do or not to do, whatever it is.”

Cody claimed the injuries sustained by players during the year posed more problems for him than the retirements of Henry Shefflin, JJ Delaney, Aidan Fogarty, David Herity and Brian Hogan prior to championship.

“The lads were gone. They weren’t even mentioned. But the injured players were still part and parcel of our panel. Obviously, we were hit with injuries at different time. You think of Richie Power. He played 10 minutes of hurling this year and that’s how good he is. Michael Fennelly, how he comes up with performances like that in a semi-final and final beggars everything that is supposed to be part and parcel of what we’re doing. And Jackie Tyrrell then.

“But you talk about the lads we lost, then add Jackie Tyrrell and Power and then you’re into serious territory. Then Richie Hogan. How he played the semi-final, we’re still wondering, and how he got onto the field yesterday is nuts as well because he’d a grade 2 tear in his quad muscle two weeks ago. He literally turned around in training, running down the sideline, recovering from his back and literally tore it.

“And Eoin Larkin, cracked thumb, in a cast until last Tuesday. And these lads just said ‘we’d be grand, we’ll be there and that’s what they did.”

Meanwhile, the two championship games over the weekend were hits for RTÉ with an average of 740,000 watching Kilkenny’s win over Galway, the numbers peaking at 919,000.

The Dublin-Mayo All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay on Saturday attracted a 678,000 average with viewers peaking at 903,000 towards the end of the game.

They contrasted with an average 330,000 viewers (438,000) for the Republic of Ireland Euro 2016 qualifier against minnows Gibraltar on Friday.

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