Corofin’s Kieran Fitzgerald has called for the All Ireland club competitions to be wrapped up before Christmas so to avoid club games clashing with college and inter-county competitions.
For the second year in a row, Corofin players, Kieran Malloy (NUIG) and Liam Silke (UCD) find themselves at the centre of a fixtures clash as their All Ireland semi-final against Gweedore takes place on the same day as the Sigerson Cup semi-finals.
Last year, Malloy made the headlines with a last minute dash to play the final minutes of the Sigerson Cup. However, given that their clash with Gweedore takes place in Carrick-on-Shannon while the Sigerson semi-finals take place in Mallow, that won’t be an option this year.
Fitzgerald believes that it is “crazy” that the players have found themselves in this situation for the second year running.
“It’s a crazy situation and how has it happened again? It shouldn’t be happening. The club finals have been on St Patrick’s Day for years but I think something has to change”, Fitzgerald told Pundit Arena.
“It’s just too hard on players. Sigerson is such a prestigious competition to be missing out on for our two guys, Liam Silke and Kieran Molloy, and it’s been messed up for the last two years.
“Last year, Liam wasn’t able to play the Sigerson final because he got injured in the game 45 minutes before that. Kieran went up and played 20 minutes.
“When you look back on your college days and think ‘Two years in a row my Sigerson ambitions have been muddled by a lack of foresight from the GAA in regards to fixtures…’”
By the time Corofin take to the field for the All Ireland semi-final, it will have been 83 days since their last game, their 2-10 to 1-9 win over Ballintubber in the Connacht final last November.
To spare players having to train through the harsh winter months, the 38-year-old suggests that the competition be concluded before Christmas with the final held under lights in Croke Park.
“Our provincial final finished in mid-November. Why not play the All-Ireland semi-final two weeks later and maybe the final a week or 10 days before Christmas under lights in Croke Park?
“Everything would be done and dusted before Christmas rather than teams slogging away through bad pitches and whatnot, nearly two and a half months to play 60 minutes of football in mid-February.”
While there is great interest in the club competitions before Christmas, Fitzgerald laments the fact that they fade into the background come February, when the inter-county scene kicks off again with the Allianz National Leagues.
“From a GAA point of view, before Christmas, the only thing really happening is the club scene. People are really interested in it.
“But by the time the All-Ireland semi-finals come around, it kind of gets lost amongst the National League games.
“Supporters are saying ‘When are they going to get the players back?’ and ‘Isn’t it an awful inconvenience that Ian Burke isn’t playing for Galway or whoever’. They’re just dying to get those players back and hoping that the club games just finish. It gets muddled in there and it’s a pity because it’s a brilliant competition.
“It’s an inconvenience for inter-county managers and teams. For the players, sometimes it’s to their detriment when they go back to the inter-county scene, that they’re playing catch-up after missing the majority of the league.
“Things are going to have to change.”
Corofin’s Kieran Fitzgerald was speaking ahead of the AIB GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Club Championship Semi-Final where they take on Gweedore at Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday, February 16th.
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