The GAA calendar has been in the limelight more than ever this year as the top teams have had a hectic schedule in the early months of 2018.
With the National Leagues being played in a condensed period of time, there is more pressure on players to deliver week after week.
Add in the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cups and there have been players who have really got a huge number of minutes under their belts in the first six weeks of the year.
Playing so many games in such a tight frame of time is inevitably going to lead to conflicts. On Saturday, we saw Kieran Molloy travel from Corofin’s win in the club championship to NUIG’s Sigerson Cup decider in Dublin.
There is a similar clash next Sunday as Limerick travel to face Antrim – less than 24 hours after UL play the Fitzgibbon Cup final. However, there will be nobody from the Treaty County repeating Molloy’s feat – with the colleges final in Mallow, Co Cork a five-hour drive away from Cushendall.
From the Limerick panel on Saturday Sean Finn, Gearoid Hegarty, Tom Morrissey, Barry Murphy, Pat Ryan and Michael Mackey are all on the UL squad while Kyle Hayes has been injured but returned to training during the week.
Speaking after Limerick’s win over Dublin, manager John Kiely confirmed that none of his UL students will travel to the north:
“I’m not going to expect the players to play a Fitzgibbon final and turn around and drive to Antrim next Saturday evening or Sunday morning. I don’t think it’s on.
“The players deserve more than that. It’s a prestigious competition and they should be entitled to have the weekend to play the final, that’s my position on it and as a management team we are united on that approach.”
However, given the fact that Limerick are also without their ten Na Piarsaigh players due to club commitment, this will stretch the Treaty panel.
“It does pose a lot of difficulties for us.
“We have to make sure we have enough bodies at the same time but I don’t want to be laying the law down and saying you guys have to travel to Antrim after playing a Fitzgibbon Cup final, I don’t think that’s fair.”
Limerick have started Division 1B with three wins from three which has come after their set of victories in the pre-season Munster Senior Hurling League. Win or lose against the Glensmen, it would appear that the March 4 clash with Galway will be a straight shoot-out for top spot – and promotion:
“We’ll have 20 players possibly fit to go to Antrim. Max. It could be 18 or 19. That’s a challenge.
“I wholeheartedly respect what they have done already in this league campaign. What they have done already has been impressive. For us to go up with a tight panel is going to make it a really, really difficult assignment and we will have to pull out all the stops to get out of there with a result and that’s the bottom line.”