Tipperary will have no representation in this year’s Munster Club senior football club championship due to a backlog of games.
Football chairman Joe Hannigan has called for a review of Tipperary’s club championship structures to reflect the county’s growing dual status as they accept the stark realisation their competition will not be finished in time for the winners to compete in the provincial campaign.
Hannigan has conceded they will be unable to fulfil the Munster quarter-final fixture against Kerry’s representatives (Austin Stacks, Dingle, Dr Crokes or Legion) on the weekend of November 8/9.
The game has already been marked down as a scratch on the official Munster GAA website.
No decision has yet been made on whether Tipperary’s intermediate and junior champions will enter the provincial competition with both scheduled to play on the weekend of October 26.
Also on November 9, the Tipperary senior hurling champions are expected to face either Ballygunner or Cratloe. That clash is expected to go ahead as the last 16 of the county hurling championship takes place this weekend. However, there may be difficulty should one of the matches end in a draw as there are no available weekends between now and then.
Hannigan revealed county chairman Sean Nugent had approached the Munster Council about pushing back the provincial football quarter-final, but the most leeway that can be given is a week, subject to approval from the other five counties.
Tipperary’s competitions control committee (CCC) would consider it “a massive achievement” if the football championship is down to the last 12 by Nov 2. The hurling competition is now at a more advanced stage and it has been decided by the CCC to conclude that first.
Hannigan rejects the suggestion that hurling has been prioritised over football. “It’s all right for people to say that but that’s simply not the case. There are just so many games left to play in the football championship, including divisional and round games, that the CCC felt this was the way to go and they can’t be afforded blame.
“Hurling is the simpler route and now you’re down to the last 16. People have to try and understand the intricacies of this. There are so many elements, so many teams, so many players lining out in both competitions. There are 32 senior hurling teams and 20 senior football teams and the majority of players are dual.
“We’re victims of circumstance and it’s too easy to look back with hindsight. While nobody wanted to concede it, it was a case of damned if you did and damned if you didn’t. Not only are there the dual clubs to consider but then you have a lot of hurlers playing on the divisional sides Thomas MacDonaghs and Shannon Rovers in the north of the county too.”
Hannigan has cited several reasons for the dilemma such as the number of dual players lining out in both championships and the extended run of Tipperary’s footballers to the last 12 and hurlers to the final, which was replayed.
“We made a conscious effort to get out of Division 4 this year and on top of that we had an extended run in the football championship through the qualifiers. That brought its own problems and then there were the hurlers reaching a final through the qualifiers.
“That ruled out a lot of dates and you had the three weeks between the final and the replay. We have so many dual players on that squad and most would be good enough to play football for the county. Nothing could be done in that time. It was like the lad said: when the train wakes you up at 6am it’s too late to get back to sleep and too early to get up!”
Hannigan also questioned why the Tipperary hurlers were left waiting so long to find out the identity of the first round qualifier opponents Galway. He claims it had an adverse knock-on effect on the club scene in the county. Tipperary lost to Limerick on June 1 and the back door draw took place on June 23.
“When Croke Park decided not to make the draw until after the Kilkenny-Galway Leinster semi-final. By that stage you already knew Tipperary were going to be on the opposite side of the draw to the Leinster losers.
“If Croke Park had made that draw earlier we would have had time to get in a game or two. But we lost three weekends when we could have been playing fixtures because we didn’t know where we stood.”
Clubs were asked to consider gruelling schedules but the CCC knew they couldn’t oblige, said Hannigan. “Teams were prepared to play Sundays and Wednesdays but not go Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday.
“We are fast becoming a strong dual county and our club competition structures need to take that into consideration. Right now it’s so complex and time-consuming. One game can influence when several others are played.”
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