No sooner has the 2016 intercounty season concluded, attentions have already turned to 2017. The draw for next seasons championships take place on Thursday, twelve days after the intercounty season has ended. Looking forward, here are fifteen wishes for next year reflecting on what happened in 2016.
1. Progress From The Football Teams In Leinster
The business end of the football season did little to compliment the current state of the Leinster football. Dublin are getting further away from the other eleven counties while Kerry and Mayo have shown they are as close as they have been in a while. Counties like Kildare, Meath, Laois and Wexford should be a lot better then what they are. They should be closer to Dublin and capable of going on better qualifier runs.
2. Better Commentators
A tweet from Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey said a lot. He spoke and expressed the thoughts of many. Watching games was painful at times this year. Some fresh voices on TV and radio would not go astray.
The fact that Tommy Carr is making money off commentary gives me some hope of one day bring an astronaut
— Jack McCaffrey (@jackmcc93) August 21, 2016
3. Less Tactics In Hurling
It’s an obvious one, and a point that was stressed and lamented for the bones of two years now. It took until the 6th of August for a genuinely good hurling game to take place in 2016. It involved two teams simlpy ‘having a go’. Three more good games followed with teams following the same principles. Hopefully the rest will now follow suit.
4. Less Talk, More Action
Yawns and displeasure continued to surface when talks of championship restructure, cards, rules changes occurred. Talk will continue, but it will continue to be cheap unless proactive changes are made. It is easy to look at the All-Ireland finals and think all is good in every aspect of GAA. A lot is wrong and more action is needed to bring in positive change.
5. Abolish The Black Card
It has to go. It might as well be called ‘The Grey Card’ as it is a punishment littered with grey areas. Players, managers, supporters no longer have a clue if the referee will issue a black card when talking to a player. It has also made the referee’s job much more difficult. It has become a shambles, and simply has to go.
6. A Good Munster Hurling Championship
What was probably the GAA’s best competition has become a shadow of its former self. The quality of hurling has diminished, the value of winning it has lessened and as a result crowds, atmosphere and the general spectacle has become quite poor. A good Munster Hurling Championship would be a good kick-start to the year.
7. More Night Time Games
This one will divide opinion. As a neutral, night games are fantastic. From a supporters point of view, one has to imagine they are great for the winning team, and torture for the losing team. Players views should be heavily catered for in this and their opinions have never really been voiced. But there are a lot of positive features to the night time games that have occured. From a neutral’s perspective, it would be good to see more.
8. A Delay In The Draw
What is the point in having the draw for a competition seven months before it starts. It is not like it is a World Cup where logistics involve travelling to another part of the world. As mentioned in the intro, the intercounty season will have finished 12 days before the draw for the following season. It should be delayed until much later.
9. Austin Gleeson At Centre-Forward
When finally positioned at number 11, we saw one the GAA’s brightest prospects shine. Gleeson is an incredible talent and a full-time berth at centre-forward seems to the best for the player and his team. Waterford made strides again this year, now Gleeson needs to be the man to take them one or two steps further.
10. Mayo For Sam
Having attended both All-Ireland finals this year, it was hard to see Mayo get so close and lose again. At this stage, it is hard to see anyone begrudging Mayo lifting Sam Maguire. They got closer this year than they have since 1996. It will take a big effort to come back again, but the majority would love to see them do it.
11. Tipperary Footballers To Drive On Again
Along with Clare, the Tipp footballers were the undoubted story of the GAA season. The finals in hurling and football may have taken a bit of gloss of their season. But it would be good to see them come back stronger again next year. Counties like Fermanagh and Wexford have gotten to semi-finals in previous years and have failed to then maintain this standard. It would be good for Tipp and GAA in general to see a traditionally weaker county staying at the top table.
12. More Coverage Of The Fitzgibbon And Sigerson Cups
These are two of the best competitions in the country that do not come close to receiving enough coverage. Third level GAA is probably the best out there. Yet it has become an obstacle for selfish intercounty managers. These competitions should be embraced from all angles. They could do a lot to improve the standard of play at the top level and should be seen as the ideal place for players to learn their trade.
13. Improved Underage Competitions
Asking players from the ages of 13-17 to play up to five championship matches in a day is nothing short of scandalous. This is how intercounty underage GAA is measured. Like all other levels, players need to be playing games. Between clubs and counties it is crazy that a fixture list cannot be established. The GAA is years behind other organisations in this regard, and it has not helped with the drop in standard at the top level.
14. Better Conditions For Clubs
Hopefully strong words from a strong personality like Henry Shefflin will help the hirearchy to do something about the disgraceful conditions GAA clubs operate in. No fixtures, big gaps between games, playing games without their best players, an outrageous training:playing ratio. The list of problems is endless. Let’s hope something might finally be done.
15. A Move Towards More Games During The Summer
A point that is continuously made. An intercounty football team plays a minimum of seven games in ten weeks, an intercounty hurling team plays a minimum of six games in eight weeks. This is what happens during the winter and spring. Why cant’t the same happen during the summer? Hopefully traditions will change, again expectations are low.