Donegal captain Michael Murphy has admitted life as a club and county player is ‘increasingly demoralising’ in the continued absence of a proper master fixtures plan for the year.
The 2012 All-Ireland winning skipper acknowledged that parts of the new ‘Super 8’ Championship structure which was voted in last weekend, such as potentially hosting Dublin or Kerry in Donegal, are hugely exciting.
But the two-time All-Star feels any change which doesn’t include a wider revamp of the Championship, and a clearer period for club fixtures, is only papering over the cracks.
Murphy is a huge fan of the Allianz League structure and feels that the Championship should be run upon similar lines with the All-Ireland final in early August and the rest of the summer and autumn cleared for club duty.
The big Glenswilly man, who has represented Donegal’s senior team for a decade, shrugged in frustration when asked for his opinion on the new Championship structure which was voted in by Congress.
“It’s just not getting to the crux of the scenario,” said Murphy.
“The whole problem is the fixture list throughout the year. It’s just not being addressed for the club footballer and the county footballer, it’s just not being addressed.
"Whatever positive or negative thing anybody has done, if the fixture list is not addressed, it’s just going to be very, very demoralising for everyone year on year. It just has to be done.
“The All-Ireland finals have been brought forward by what? Three weeks? If we can play national league games week on week, or every two weeks, there’s no reason why we can’t play Championship games the same.
“I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t play our All-Ireland on the Bank Holiday weekend in August and leave sufficient time for club football in good weather.
“Does that leave the likes of June and July for county only football? I don’t know. But a master fixture plan has to be drawn up. Everybody is chatting about it but nobody is doing anything about it.”
The new ‘Super 8’ structure will replace the All-Ireland quarter- finals with two groups of four and each team will play a home game, an away game and a game at Croke Park.
“That would be exciting,” acknowledged Murphy who kicked the equalising point against Dublin in the league last Sunday.
“I wouldn’t lie to you, it would be exciting. But it’s just the whole thing about does that then eat into your provincial thing?
“I don’t know if you can have your national league, your provincial championship and also your Super 8. One of those things is going to have to go in order to have a fixture list.
“The will is there too, I believe, among county players. Speaking to our own players, we do speak about it. We spoke about it on Sunday when we were waiting around before the game.
"We want to play with our clubs. There’s no denying that. We want to play. And club players want to play and they want to know their fixture list. So let’s make it happen.”
Murphy was speaking ahead of tonight’s RTÉ2 TV airing of the AIB backed The Toughest Trade documentary which charts his time as a rugby player with Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne.
The powerful 27-year-old forward said he took a full part in activities and shipped some heavy hits though escaped unscathed and played a key role in the draw with Dublin last weekend.
Murphy said he was able to compete physically with the professional rugby players but insisted he was well off being at the same level as the majority of players.
“In terms of the whole week and the structure of it and how their on-field training sessions go, there is quite an overlap and I came away thinking we’re not too far away in what we are doing,” said Murphy.
“We’re not too dissimilar with what we’re doing in Gaelic football.”
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