Mary Immaculate College coach, Jamie Wall believes that a Fitzgibbon Cup medal holds more weight than a National League medal for the majority of inter-county hurlers.
Ahead of the start of the famed third-level tournament, Wall sat down for an in-depth chat with Denis Hurley of The Southern Star to discuss all things college hurling.
With much debate going on in the GAA around the constant build-up of fixtures, many people believe the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cups should be downgraded in some way to accommodate the inter-county season.
Last year saw a change in format for the first time when the finals of both competitions, as well as the lower-level competitions, were held separately to the semi-finals rather than as part of a weekend festival.
“I understood why the weekend had to go, from a player welfare point of view,” he says.
“Two games in two days is tough going but, in saying that, there are counties I know that are training three days of the weekend at the moment, under managers who bemoaned the weekend.
“Everyone has their own axe to grind and I certainly don’t take it personally, everyone has their own agenda and it’s naïve not to acknowledge that. Obviously, people will say I’ve a vested interest in terms of the Fitzgibbon and I do, but from a number of points of view.
“I think it’s a serious competition and I think the majority of players would rate a Fitzgibbon medal higher than a league medal.”
Wall gave his take on how he would fix the ongoing issues by starting the college competition a week earlier and scrapping National League quarterfinals in order to free up two extra weekends.
“I’ve heard Feargal McGill of the GAA talk about putting it before Christmas and I think that that would be the slow death of the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson.” Wall said.
“There’s time for them – start them a week earlier in January and finish them a week earlier. We have quarter-finals in the hurling league, you can come fourth in Division 1B and end up in the quarter-finals, that’s ludicrous. They were a complete sop to keep people from complaining with Division 1 was split.
“If you start the colleges competitions a week earlier and take away the league quarter-finals, that’s two weekends freed up. There’s a league-based championship now too so those players have enough going on, you don’t need that extra round.’
“I think having the competitions at the start of the year means they serve as a launchpad. If they were before Christmas, they’d be seen as a box to tick to wind down the year.”