Home GAA Opinion: Munster Fixture Controversy Shows Lack Of Foresight In Fixture-Making

Opinion: Munster Fixture Controversy Shows Lack Of Foresight In Fixture-Making

Clare’s Munster Senior Hurling League tie with Cork is set to go ahead tomorrow night despite initial claims that the Banner would refuse to field a team. Their reasoning for doing so was because there have 14 players playing in the opening round of the Fitzgibbon Cup this afternoon.

Where things get a bit complicated is when you consider that Limerick are waiting for the result of this game to see if they make the final of the pre-season competition, a final which is scheduled to take place this weekend.

While you can have sympathy for Clare’s situation, this didn’t just creep up on them out of nowhere. The fixtures aren’t a state secret – they knew before Christmas that they were to play Cork on January 25. Why wait until three days beforehand to cry foul?

Munster Senior Hurling League Round 4, Fraher Field, Co. Waterford 22/1/2017 Waterford vs Clare Clare’s Aaron Cunningham and Waterford’s Ian O'Regan Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

With fixtures and fixture-making such a contentious issue at present, teams have to be smarter about this. If they had an issue with playing this week, Clare should have let the Munster Council know in advance.

Too often teams have a wait-and-see approach and give out when things don’t go their way.

A few years ago in the under-21 hurling championship, Antrim were unhappy at having to travel to Thurles for the final, having gone all the way to the Tipperary venue for the previous round. However, the final is always in Thurles and Antrim are, more often than not, in the semi-final but yet never asked the GAA for a more neutral venue should they make the final.

It’s not just the men’s codes where this happens. There was the recent case of the Leinster Post-Primary Schools Camogie ‘B’ final where St Joseph’s of Westmeath were due to play on the same day as a number of their players were to play in the Ladies Football Inter-Provincial blitz.

Why didn’t the school flag with the camogie board that they would be unable to play on the Saturday? Surely, with girls from both sides playing for Leinster, they had that date marked in the diary well in advance. How was the camogie board to know (or care for that matter) who was playing for the Inter-Provincial Ladies’ Football team?

In that case, it was up to the school to flag the day where they couldn’t play instead of waiting and hoping the fixtures wouldn’t clash.

Similarly, with the Antrim under-21’s – why didn’t they have arranged to play an All-Ireland final in Portlaoise or somewhere in the midlands, should they make the final.

Clare had ample opportunity to say they were unwilling to play Cork tomorrow night, but instead waited until a mere 72 hours before throw-in to register a complaint. There is a mess with fixtures at this time of year with the college championships getting underway just as the National Leagues are getting closer and closer at the same time making life tough for managers and players alike.

Munster Senior Hurling League Round 4, Fraher Field, Co. Waterford 22/1/2017 Clare’s John Conlon with Waterford’s Colin Dunford and Paddy Cooke Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton Waterford vs Clare

The Munster Council aren’t exactly innocent in this either. They should be experienced enough to know that midweek games at this time of year are opening themselves up to fixture clashes with the Fitzgibbon Cup.

However, given how the Munster Council were willing to postpone games in the club championship when county finals hadn’t been played, you have to imagine that, given notice, they would have obliged to Clare’s request – had it been timely.

That’s where Clare have nobody to blame here. It wasn’t a surprise to them on Sunday evening that they had another game on Wednesday.

With ‘Fix The Fixtures’ the new trendy catchphrase, it would help if teams would give fixture-makers a bit of notice of when they are in fact willing to play.

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