Monday 21 October 2019

GAA calendar in need of serious review - Fanning

Waterford hurling manager Páraic Fanning. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Waterford hurling manager Páraic Fanning. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

There's always a sense of deja vu when fixture-makers end up scrambling to reschedule games because of the weather and Waterford hurling manager Páraic Fanning believes that a thorough review of the GAA calendar is essential.

Fanning stood in a rain-soaked Walsh Park minutes after yesterday's clash between the Déise and Galway - who stayed overnight in anticipation of the Division 1B tie - was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

Given the condensed league calendar - quarter-finals were originally penned in for this weekend - Fanning admitted he would be in the dark about rescheduled fixtures until this morning and the Déise boss feels that the schedule is "too tight".

"We had it last year with the snow as well and they had to tweak the fixtures. The calendar is too tight especially with the Fitzgibbon (Cup) and a lot being asked of lads. A second week's break is needed," he said.

"We've got to really look at it and you need a bit of leeway. You need something where you can tweak things a little bit. A serious review of the whole calendar is needed and joined up thinking with people talking to each other to see what's best."

Fanning feels moving the Fitzgibbon Cup and Munster League/Walsh Cup to a knock-out format would free up more weekends as plans for this week were ripped up.

"It upsets us because we had different things planned for this week. You forward plan a lot but I don't know what the plans are for next week yet. I can't plan until I know tomorrow."

It wasn't the happy ending Waterford hoped for in Walsh Park after success in the board room earlier this week with home venues for their Munster SHC meetings with Limerick and Clare this summer in the Waterford city site confirmed.

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Having played their four provincial games away from home last year, that was a "massive" boost for the Déise.

"What it means to the locality and to the people of Waterford to have that buzz building up to it, it's massive. That's going to do wonders here for hurling again with the build-up to those games," Fanning said.

"It gets kids on the street playing hurling, it gets people talking about hurling and we wouldn't have had that last year. You can't beat the game only being up the road and people talking about it in pubs and shops.

"We've all been very keen from the get-go to play our home games at home and we really pushed for it. A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes between our own board and the Munster Council to facilitate it."

While already assured of a quarter-final place after victories against Offaly, Laois and Carlow - and defeat to Dublin - Fanning has been operating without a host of marquee names.

Conor Gleeson required shoulder surgery and is slated for "mid April" while Tadhg de Búrca, Austin Gleeson, Conor Prunty, Darragh and Shane Fives and Brian O'Halloran are sidelined for a few weeks.

The return of the Ballygunner contingent following their All-Ireland club semi-final defeat to Ballyhale Shamrocks has helped offset this, however, and "it's all systems go" according to Fanning as the championship looms large.

"The Ballygunner lads were keen to get back. They'd a tough but brilliant year. I know only too well that getting over a semi-final defeat isn't easy but we gave them a bit of space for a week or two and they came back in training last Friday week," he said.

"They're back in full and it's brilliant to have them back, they'll raise the bar further in training. It's all systems go now, we know we're in a quarter-final anyway so we'll drive on now as much as we can."

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