Stop the congestion

by Stephen Findlater
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DUBLIN boss Jim Gavin has voiced his preference for playing the All-Ireland senior club championships within the calendar year as a potential aid to reduce fixture congestion and burn-out for both club and county players.

The Round Tower’s club man was speaking ahead of Dublin’s Leinster senior football championship date with Wexford this weekend where the side will again have to line out without the availability of St Vincent’s All-Ireland winning captain Ger Brennan.
He has been sidelined since Vincent’s won that club title with an ankle injury and while he is back in training in the gym, he has yet to be back playing football with the panel.
Brennan is an absentee while Bernard Brogan has a grade-one hamstring tear but could be back in time. Denis Bastick is another injury doubt.
But it was when Gavin was asked about Brennan’s fitness that he suggested that the current calendar of club and county needs to be rejigged to reduce the stress placed on players.
“That’s the challenge with the fixture schedule and its demands,” he said. “Any club that does well in their province and goes on to the All-Irelands, it’s a long season for the players. It’s a long season for Ger [Brennan] and Diarmuid [Connolly] and with Ger getting that injury, he hasn’t been able to shake it off.”
He says that if the All-Ireland club championship series was moved to be played within the same calendar year, it would leave more room for the National Football League to start later and also would allow more club games to be played during this time.
“First and foremost, the club championships is a great competition. I always enjoy going to the club finals on St Patrick’s Day and the club is the bedrock of the GAA. But there is an argument to be made to try and finish it in the same calendar year which would leave players free for county duties. Castlebar in Mayo had the same problems as did St Brigid’s of Roscommon. Those players who do well for the clubs have that to deal with.
“I’ve said in the past, the NFL starts too early and finishes too soon. There would be merit in having the club championship finishing in the same year, allowing the NFL starting in the spring. It would also mean players who play Under-21 and Sigerson Cup could also get a fair crack of the whip with the senior side.
“For Dublin clubs, if they are involved in the All-Ireland series, it does have an effect in getting [club] games played at the start of the leagues. Administratively, it would make things a lot easier.”

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