Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Joe Kernan: Inter-pros can have a bright future given half a chance

The kiss of life rendered to the inter-provincial football and hurling championships has to some extent restored my faith in the democracy on which the GAA prides itself.

Just a matter of weeks after president Christy Cooney had given a broad hint that the competition was dead in the water, a substantial majority vote at Congress paved the way for the series to be resurrected.

I know that it is for one year only as things stand but if thought is put into just where and when the fixtures will be played then the series can be retained as part of the annual fixtures calendar.

I have no doubt that if Ulster were to reach the football decider next year then it would be possible to attract a crowd of 3,000-4,000 to the match. There are some who will suggest this is wishful thinking but I will stick to my view nonetheless.

The decision to continue staging the AIB Club finals on St Patrick’s Day does not surprise me although I am conscious of the fact that a team can reach the final by playing just one match between the end of November and March 17.

That is a long period in which to ask players to keep fit and focused. On the other hand, there is now a very special atmosphere prevalent in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day and I have been fortunate to have been part of it for six of the last 15 years with my club Crossmaglen Rangers.

I certainly have sympathy for those county teams who will once again this year have only six days in which to prepare for an All Ireland Qualifier should they lose their provincial decider.

That is not nearly enough time and I am very surprised that the GAA in its wisdom did not see fit to extend this period to 13 days.

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