Ironically, given the complaints about Waterford’s typically-tardy completion of its premier hurling championship, it doesn’t seem to have done De La Salle any harm, considering Cork’s was finished long before.
However, the perennial fixtures fiasco can’t continue, with the footballers facing the prospect of a 2009 final. (Dungarvan won the ’92 county title in February of the following year; I remember because I started work with there with the Observer the same week).
With players particularly perturbed, fair play to the Abbeyside/Ballinacourty club for tabling a motion for next month’s annual County Board convention on the subject.
The reigning Waterford Club of the Year has asked that the group stages of the 2009 county senior championships be completed before July and the annual break for Waterford games.
As you’ll be aware, Waterford won’t figure in this year’s Munster club senior football championship. The local competition is still only at the quarter-final stage due to a combination of postponements arising from inter-county activity, fixture clashes and inclement weather.
I know there’s an overlap between dual players and sister clubs, but it beggars belief that were no football championship matches in Waterford between June 23 and September 26, when the county’s participation in the ‘All-Ireland’ series ended on July 23 with the Tommy Murphy Cup defeat by Wicklow in Aughrim.
“It is unacceptable that games programmes at any grade should be completely put on hold when county teams are taking part in the championship. This is unquestionably one of the GAA’s biggest challenges at the moment and counties must play their part to address the current imbalance between club and inter-county activity at the prime playing time of the year… Changes are essential, because continuing to operate as we are is not an option.”
That’s what Nickey Brennan said. Well over a year ago. It’s a great organisation, granted, but progress in the GAA is the proverbial dripping tap… with lead in the water. They might get there eventually, but given that they tend to leave local units to their own devices (see Cork), county boards need to take matters in their own hands – and, where appropriate, as in this instance, to be instructed by club delegates to get the finger out for once and for all.
While acknowledging that football is bottom of their list of priorities and always will be, Kilkenny’s prime example (and to a lesser extent, Tipp’s and Cork’s) would seem to suggest, if not confirm, that keeping players in peak championship condition by playing club games throughout the summer is the way to go.
Former Offaly football manager Eugene McGee reckons “The only dispensation that should be allowed for inter-county games is that players not play for their clubs for eight days before a county game. That should be a rule and, rigorously enforced. County team managers should undertake to abide by that rule at the time of their appointment otherwise they do not get the job. That is what would happen in other walks of life, but of course the GAA is very much an undisciplined organisation. The people most likely to break a rule like that are county board officers themselves.”
However, in hopefully resolving the scheduling crux (and an advance official and fixed fixtures book should be a first step) what hold the Waterford senior hurling manager has over the release of players needs to be sorted out for starters. Basically, does Davy Fitzgerald see club activity as a hindrance or, as Brian Cody does, a help?