A PART of me thinks the split-season isn’t a complete disaster for Gaelic football. The reason I say that is because Gaelic football can be played at this time of year with not too much detriment to the game really. Alright, the pitches are a good bit heavier but at the end of the day it can still be played at a very high level.
I still don’t necessarily agree with the system but that’s neither here nor there.
But with hurling I’m totally opposed to it. The only hurling that should be going on at this time of year is university hurling, and the only reason it should be played is simply because this is the season for it.
The whole idea that this is good for the club player baffles me. I’ve spoken to several Cushendall boys and there’s not one of them who agree with the split-season. What intercounty player wants to finish his county season in the middle of July and potentially end up playing right up to Christmas, and then start all over again?
Dunloy last year played an All-Ireland final and the following Sunday half of those boys had to line out for Antrim in the National League. There’s no off-season for these boys anymore and then you’re asking if you’re a club player, when do you now start your club season?
Sleacht Néill have retained their Derry hurling title and they now have eight weeks to prepare for an Ulster final, it’s madness. They play the winners of Cushendall and Portaferry in early December, so what the hell do Sleacht Néill do during this wait?
The only alternative under the current system is that they play the Derry county final in mid-November, which is totally nonsense as well.
So when to start your club season? What’s the point of taking boys out in January, February, March and running them about the place? Should it be started in April? The whole thing is a mess and I personally didn’t see an awful lot wrong with the old system.
County players don’t play any league matches for their club anyway, which I don’t necessarily agree with, and by the time they come back, the league is finished. A county player has potentially a couple of championship games and that’s the season over anyway, so I can’t see why the GAA forced this through.
They’re now insisting the All-Ireland final is played in the middle of July, and that’s fine in one sense, but there’s only going to be two counties involved at that stage. A window would be set that on the first weekend of August, every club championship in Ireland has to commence, and then you could bring forward the end of season. The first week of October could be provincial finals and the whole thing would be wrapped up by the end of October.
I know there’s talk about fixture pile-ups but how can you say that when Cushendall have to wait more than a month to play their Ulster SHC semi-final?
Then there’s the other problem – who the hell wants to be playing a hurling match in early-December? As a system it doesn’t make sense to me whatsoever.
Yes, people in power must’ve thought ‘this is an idea that will avoid burnout’, and they might be right in terms of physical matters, but I would say what a lot of the players are going through right now is an emotional burn-out. I think that’s the worry – if you’re a club or county player and you knew the season would be over on October 31, you’d know once it gets to that stage, your season is finished and you have control over your own life for a few months.
I can’t see any down-time for GAA players at all anymore. It doesn’t even assist club-only players. If you’re a 19-year -old with Cushendall and you’ve played every league game for your club, and you know come to the summer, five or six county players are going to come back in and you’ll be back on the bench again, why would that young lad bother? Why shouldn’t he clear off?
I know that sounds negative but it’s another example of why the split-season is a terrible idea. The club leagues aren’t being taken seriously by clubs as they think the league doesn’t really matter. It just feels like a competition that’s played off for the sake of it.
I basically feel too much of what goes on in terms of games administration feels like a box-ticking exercise, it really does.
My club won the U-19 ‘A’ championship and it was a big achievement but it was tainted because Loughgiel and Dunloy didn’t play as they’d a minor competition at the same time.
It’s just a massively frustrating state of affairs all round and it’s hard to see it changing as the horse has bolted.