Monday 18 November 2019

Bring League forward to new year, keep April and May free

Joe Brolly suggested that the league begin in January and the All-Ireland finals take place in June
Joe Brolly suggested that the league begin in January and the All-Ireland finals take place in June

Michael McCarthy

Preliminary GAA competitions don't matter. Obviously. Even though crowd congestion delayed the throw-ins of both Meath v Dublin, and Armagh v Tyrone this month.

Even though the O'Byrne Cup final between Kildare and the Dubs in Newbridge is a sell-out this weekend.

And even though I found myself frantically checking Twitter every 30 seconds for score updates from Clare v Tipperary last weekend.

No, this isn't a passionate defence of the institution of the much maligned hybrid of inter-county and college GAA. They seriously don't matter.

It is clear, though, that there's genuine appetite for inter-county GAA at this time of year. It has been a long wait since September, and for most counties, it has been a lot longer than that.

A few weeks ago, Joe Brolly suggested that the league begin in January and the All-Ireland finals take place in June.

While I wouldn't agree with the latter, starting the league in the new year has merit.

It can be played from January to March, leaving April and May as official club championship months. Then condense the inter-county championship, starting it in June.

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We've discussed the league being the only sporting competition in the world that seems to get less important as it goes on.

The Championship is on the horizon, and managers will reel off spring catchphrases like, "May 26 in Thurles, that's our only focus" for the better part of two months.

We'd suddenly have a true break in the inter-county season, allow for six weeks of club activity, and give a serious emphasis to the league.

What do we lose? The preliminary competitions don't matter.

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