Sunday 25 September 2016

It could be like this all the time

Ger Gilroy

Published 13/07/2016 | 02:30

There were 21 senior intercounty games in a nine-day period between the first two weekends of July. Photo: Sportsfile
There were 21 senior intercounty games in a nine-day period between the first two weekends of July. Photo: Sportsfile

Last weekend was like a fever dream of what an Irish GAA summer could be. Thousands of people around the country enjoying the madness of big games at local venues, hundreds of thousands more watching on television and a thousand storylines to tease out in bar-rooms, offices and across the airwaves.

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There were 21 senior inter-county games in a nine-day period between the first two weekends of July. If you thought one game was bad well no worries, there's another steaming along at high speed with a shock on the cards. The games and the sports felt alive.

We're all blue in the face talking about reform of the fixtures calendar. These weeks in July where the qualifiers and the provincial finals overlap are the perfect snapshot of what we're missing out on.

It's summer time and the surfaces are good, the strength and conditioning has paid off, partnerships are understood, players are tactically aware and they've played enough games in the last month to feel like they're footballers or hurlers not gym rats or training gimps.

Then bang, a two-point defeat and they're out, inter-county football gone until February. Management teams are only beginning to fully countenance how good or bad some of their players are when the ball moves faster through the warm air - and we chop the legs from under them.

Maybe we have a fetish in Ireland for cup competitions. It's like the having 'the dinner' in the middle of the day; it makes no sense but no-one's going to change it. So we gorge for a few weeks and are left with not much to look forward to.

Any system that teases the lovers of hurling and football with such good fare after so long a build-up, only to remove half the teams so ruthlessly at the precise point we're getting to know them, is broken. Everyone wants more games in a fair system at the right time. Wouldn't it be great if it could be like this all the time?

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