Fitzgibbon hopefuls face conflict with league games
A significant conflict between college and county looks set to arise in the early part of 2018 as the consequences of an abbreviated inter-county season kick in.
With an earlier start to the Allianz Hurling League required to facilitate an end of March conclusion to keep April clear for clubs, the Bord na Móna Walsh Cup and Munster League finals have both been fixed for January 21.
But that's also the date for the first round of the Fitzgibbon Cup which, for a county like Limerick which won't have access to 10 Na Piarsaigh players already due to their interest in the All-Ireland club semi-final, would lead to heavy conflict with so many of their squad involved with UL, LIT and Mary Immaculate at Fitzgibbon Cup level, if they were to make it that far.
The Munster League is being run off between just four counties this year - Cork, Clare, Limerick and Kerry - as Waterford will be on their team holiday for the start of the competition and Tipperary have opted out in recent seasons. That gives Limerick a decent chance of making a final.
Provincial Councils do have the scope to defer their pre-season finals but they must be completed before the end of the leagues in accordance with a motion passed at the September Special Congress.
The tighter scheduling of the Allianz Hurling League and Fitzgibbon Cup, the draws for which are being made in Croke Park later today, could see a player involved in nine to 10 matches in five weeks if his third-level institute reached the Fitzgibbon Cup which is slated for Saturday, February 24, 2018 and he committed to each of the opening four league games with his county.
Each college will play between two and three round robin games (there are three- and four-team groups) with a quarter-final, semi-final and final after that.