Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Joe Kernan: All-Ireland club finals should be switched from St Patrick’s Day

We may be locked in dark and dank November but the GAA pulse is still beating strongly.

The All Stars have just returned from New York and the stage is set for the various provincial club championship finals.

In Ulster, the club series has provided top class fare to date with the Junior, Intermediate and Senior finals due to take place over the weekend of December 1/2.

And therein lies my major gripe.

Surely it’s high time that the All-Ireland club series could be completed within the calendar year instead of waiting until February to stage the semi-finals with the final taking place on St Patrick’s Day.

I believe that the All-Ireland club series is one of the best competitions in the overall fixtures calendar but the interval between the staging of provincial finals and All-Ireland finals is much too long.

There is no reason why the All-Ireland finals cannot be played in November.

Maybe this does not sound the most appealing prospect to many people but there are a lot of club treasurers who would welcome such a move.

Clubs that reach the semi-finals and finals of the All-Ireland series are forced into considerable extra expense as they will have three months extra preparation and training to undertake all of which entails a huge outlay.

While I have had the pleas

ure of being at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day for many finals and have been actively involved in several with my club Crossmaglen Rangers, I make no apologies for suggesting that the club deciders should be completed in the previous calendar year.

Indeed, as things stand, March is one of the most congested months in the overall fixtures calendar. The Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues, the Sigerson Cup, Ulster U21 Football Championship, MacRory Cup semi-finals and final and other lesser competition are all staged in March making it a frenetic month of activity.

Quite a number of players, too, find themselves serving more than one master as they sample action at different levels with club and county thus leaving themselves open to potential burn-out.

I know from personal experience that club players love playing in All-Ireland finals at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day but such matches will not be diluted in status in the slightest if they are to go ahead at Headquarters in November, so easing the fixtures congestion in the early part of the following year.

It is worth remembering, too, that county team managers are deprived of the services of leading players for perhaps the greater part of the Allianz League because of the involvement of teams in the concluding stages of the All-Ireland series.

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