Thursday 23 November 2017

Players caught in club sandwich

Metropolitan players may be punished for county's success at inter-county level, writes Marie Crowe

The Dublin County Board will have to wait until next a Leinster CCC meeting this week to find out if they will have a representative in the Leinster club football championship.

Dublin chairman Andy Kettle confirmed to the Sunday Independent that the board has formally re-submitted its request to have the provincial fixtures put back to accommodate their delayed championship. The first application to Leinster Council was rejected.

"We tried to get the fixtures altered earlier in the season," said Kettle. "And perhaps then Leinster looked at it as being too early, and they wanted to see how things developed. Our teams could have been beaten in the interim which would have meant that we would have free weekends to play the championships. They were possibly right to call it at that stage. We now know exactly where we are and we have a very definite proposal for them."

As it stands the Dublin football champions are set to play the Meath champions on October 23 but if the existing fixtures plan in Dublin is adhered to they will not have their championship finished in time to compete.

Dublin are set to recommence their club games the week after the All-Ireland final and play right up until the start of November.

Counties are no longer allowed nominate representatives so if the Leinster Council doesn't accede to the request, Dublin will not be playing in the provincial competition. Kettle is confident that this will not happen but accepts the board needs to learn from what happened this year.

"There are review committees for hurling and football and part of their task is to put forward proposals on a year-to-year basis on how the competition will be structured. We haven't been in a football final for 16 years and it's been a long time since our hurlers and under 21s did so well.

"You budget when you start to plan your season in January for maybe one or two teams going the distance, but unfortunately from a fixtures committee point of view all teams have gone pretty much to the end of their championships. That created headaches but it's a marvellous place to be."

Kilmacud Crokes manager Paddy Carr believes that running the club championships in conjunction with the inter-county championship is the way to go for the Dublin County Board.

"I think it gives a much more natural season to the championship," said Carr. "Counties who have experience of featuring in September are well able to run their club competitions so there are obviously lessons to be learned. The fact of the matter is that the Dublin county championship is now going to be concertinaed into a very short space of time and there could be problems if one team is unlucky to sustain a number of injuries in a game.

"If that happens there will be no time for recuperation and also issues can arise surrounding draws."

Although Carr is happy that Dublin are in an All-Ireland final he doesn't feel club players should be punished for something that is entirely outside of their control.

Many of the players in question have been training for over six months and have only played two championship matches to date.

"I believe the county board are trying to address the fixtures issue at the moment with the Leinster Council," added Carr. "I certainly hope that it's not lost on anybody from Croke Park to Leinster Council that this is not the fault of the clubs and it would be very wrong if Dublin were not allowed to have a representative in the Leinster championship because again it would mean that the club players are being punished on the double."

Carr also admitted that keeping players motivated when there are no games on the horizon hasn't been easy.

"It takes a fair bit of imagination and for a lot of the springtime and into the summer we trained with very low numbers even into single figures because we have so many players involved in the county set up. It's difficult and we have to factor in downtime and be very focused on the needs of the individual players.

"It's a different type of management, it's a huge exercise in patience but at the same time we are very respectful and understanding of the demands that are on Pat Gilroy and his squad. We are happy to row in behind that," added Carr.

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