The 2018 Championship will see major changes, with the introduction of Super 8s, and the fact that the entire schedule is being condensed. The GAA have made efforts to aid clubs by leaving the entire month of April free of intercounty action, and informing counties that the club must have full access to players for that month.
Writing in his final annual report as Ard Stiúrthóir, Páraic Duffy reiterated his commitment to seeing this through.
GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy has told County Boards to put their clubs ahead of their inter-county managers by scheduling club matches in the month of April https://t.co/tjLTIiAcNK
— The GAA (@officialgaa) January 23, 2018
However, this may be easier said than done in certain counties. Leitrim and Sligo travel to New York and London respectively for their Championship openers on May 6. If the club month is effectively implemented, this means that county managers will only have a matter of days to assemble their squad and prepare them for the first game.
Leitrim star Emlyn Mulligan aired these concerns on Twitter.
All good and well but counties like ourselves and sligo for example are out in championship in the first week in May?how can county boards release them players to the club for the month? https://t.co/s7yoF2EUj3
— Emlyn Mulligan (@emlynmulligan) January 23, 2018
Leitrim aren’t the only county set-up with such a dilemma, as several managers have pointed out the difficulties that will arise from the club month.
Sligo star Niall Murphy was in complete agreement with Mulligan, and highlighted the extended run-in to the second tie in the Connacht Championship.
What's worse is that if we win it's a 4 week break to a Connacht Semi Final and if we lose a 5 week break to the qualifiers. Madness.
— Niall Murphy (@nmurphy2011) January 23, 2018
Given that this is the first year that such a dedicated club month exists, there are likely to be even more teething problems arising in the coming weeks and months.