Tuesday 24 April 2018

Off the Ball: One-game season an insult to club players

Ciaran Kilkenny holds off the challenge of Declan Lally during Castleknock's win over St Oliver Plunketts (Justin Farrelly)
Ciaran Kilkenny holds off the challenge of Declan Lally during Castleknock's win over St Oliver Plunketts (Justin Farrelly)

Colm Parkinson

The sporting story of the week was obviously Leicester City's Premier League triumph but in second place, as far as I'm concerned, was something happened in the Dublin Senior Football Championship.

Relatively new kids on the block Castleknock beat 2014 finalists Oliver Plunketts by a goal to move into round two.

What's most incredible is that Plunketts are out of the Dublin championship. Yes, after one championship game on April 30, Plunketts have no more championship football.

No back door to prepare for, no round-robin to give them a chance to make up for a sloppy performance. They are out.

Plunketts started back training in early January and trained four nights a week, between gym and on field sessions, and all for one game.

How can the Dublin County Board get away with this? And how does the GAA allow it? Guaranteeing club players only one championship game is an insult to players who train so hard.

I have played in Dublin, and the championship is so competitive and the standard so high, club teams prepare like intercounty sides.


All that preparation and sacrifice for one bite of the cherry in April.

High-profile Plunketts players like Bernard Brogan, Ciaran McKeever and Tomas Corrigan will have championship football this Summer but what about their team-mates?

We'll see top-class players like Alan Brogan twiddling his thumbs without championship football all summer.

It should be mandatory that club players, all over the country, be guaranteed at least three championship games during the summer. Round-robin groups of four where possible, or whatever system county boards want to implement, but three should be the minimum.

County boards now pander to intercounty managers not wanting club fixtures clashing with their preparation.

I should say I understand where the managers are coming from here.

I sound like a broken record but shortening the intercounty season would alleviate the issues club players face regarding their championship.

Club and intercounty football clearly don't mix any more, so why not give them a fairer split?

Right now intercounty is allocated nine months and club shoehorned into three. Maybe a 6/6 split is unrealistic but 7/5 is definitely workable.

But who will listen, they are only club players.

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