THERE has been a lot of talk and discussion this week about a topic that I like to touch upon – the split-season.
There are ongoing talks to push the All-Ireland final back into August to give more time between the semi-final and final of the football championship.
For me, that’s no major issue, but it’s massively important that we keep the split-season in place because, for me, it does wonders for county players and club players alike.
From someone who sat on both sides of the fence, here are some of the advantages of having this structure in place.
County player advantages:
1 Shorter season
This means that it is less taxing on the mind and body. Before this, teams would start in October or November and, if you are successful enough, you will be going right through until mid-August. Teams lucky enough to make the final would carry on until September.
For me, that is just way too long.
Sometimes there would be as much as four weeks between games and for players to keep up the requisite level of concentration, commitment and desire was never sustainable.
What we have now is a shorter model and you know exactly when you need to peak for and exactly how long your season will be.
I think it has become even more attractive for players to play at inter-county level.
2 A chance at a normalish life
What I mean by this is that players can give all to the county for the whole season and then after the season is done, they have an opportunity to perhaps go on holiday for a week or two before they get stuck in with their clubs.
Some can have the experience of travelling to the States for the summer to play a bit of football and live a little.
Some people may frown upon that last bit because, in years gone by, we have done everything in our power to try and stop players from doing just that.
However, I think, from a players’ point of you, it’s refreshing that at the end of your inter-county season, you still have the opportunity to travel a little and experience the things other normal people your age are experiencing.
3 Keeps you fresh for your club
In the past, even back when I was playing, your season started up with the inter-county pre-season around November and you’d train right through with the county until you were knocked out.
If you were not out with your county on the Sunday, you would be expected to line out with your club, the following week and head straight into championship action.
Then, depending on whether or not you came from a strong enough club, that competition could take you well into September or October. Then you are looking at the cycle starting all over again.
What we have with this structure as a calendar where players know when they can take their down-time and there are ample opportunities to do so. That keeps your body and mind fresh when you return back to your clubs.
Those are just some of the advantages that spring to mind and that’s before we even go down the road of looking into the advantages of work/life balance and education/life balance.
So, for me, the structure is a winner and we do we must do everything we can to protect it.
Advantages for Club players
This won’t take very long as all I have to say is the word calendar. Club players now actually know when their season starts, when their games will take place and when they will finish. Imagine that.
It sounds so simple now doesn’t it, but for years we had a situation where no one had a clue when they were starting, when they were playing, or when they would finish.
The club game has grown massively over the last number of years and I think the split season will enhance things further. It’s a win-win all round for me.
Like I said, I have no real issues with pushing the All-Ireland final back by two weeks, but it must be laid in stone that no more shifts will ever take place on this matter because this is the way forward for both and inter-county players and club players alike.
What’s that old saying? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.