Munster county officials support move for change
The GAA's report on player burnout and the fixtures calendar has received support from two leading officials in Munster counties who have previously held reservations about concluding the All-Ireland club championships in December.
Waterford chairman Paddy Joe Ryan is in favour of completing the club championships in the same calendar year despite the difficulties his county have faced this year in completing their own football championship.
The Waterford football final between Stradbally and Ballinacourty takes place tonight with the winners due to meet Nemo Rangers in the Munster club championship tomorrow.
Ryan welcomes the changes being suggested and if it made it feasible to get local championships completed earlier and in better conditions, he "would love to do it."
Ryan stressed that he was speaking in a personal capacity ahead of an executive meeting that was due to discuss it last night.
"On a personal level I have no great problem with it. We have too many grades inside and outside the county. It's a great idea if we can get our club games played in the middle of the summer."
Limerick secretary Mike O'Riordan also feels wrapping up the club championships in December will be of benefit though he accepted his personally-held view may differ from his county.
Munster counties have expressed misgivings about the tighter schedule being proposed because of the impact it could have on bigger dual counties.
O'Riordan feels the value of completion in December is important to a county like Limerick that has had regular involvement in the All-Ireland club championships.
"The county might not be in favour of it but I would be in favour of it," he said. "Limerick have been very successful in the club championships from senior right down to junior.
"If you look at a county like us trying to get out of Division 1B in the hurling, it is very hard when you are restricted with half your team missing for the earlier rounds. That's the one aspect I would have with it, that if the club championships were finished in December, counties could concentrate on leagues with their full complements."
Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh have both won Munster club titles in the last three seasons and the Limerick team have felt the impact of that in the early rounds of the league. O'Riordan estimates that if Na Piarsaigh were to win Munster again later this month, Limerick could be without up to eight players for the start of the league.
Ryan has however warned against the financial impact of playing extra-time in all championship games, thereby reducing the number of money-spinning replays. He says counties depend on the extra money from replays to pay their way.
The Waterford chairman applauds the discussion paper as "a good attempt" to tackle the issues of burnout and greater club fixture space.
"With replays the money comes back to the county board. How are county boards going to survive? That's not being selfish, that's a practical reality.
"I know this - when I was elected chairman of the County Board in 1994 we were taking in €200,000 in gate receipts. We were spending €200,000 on our county teams. We are now taking in €200,000 or less on our gates and we are spending €680,000 on our county teams. Can you make that add up? The money has to come from some place," he warned.
"I have the concern about costs of running teams escalating out of all proportions and county boards are struggling, begging around different supporters' clubs just to keep above board."
Ryan says Waterford's fixture problems derive from so many clubs having strong dual status and an anomaly this year where a walkover was given and play-offs had to take place to decide placings.
"We're struggling to play our county final tomorrow night with a Munster club match for the winners the following night. It's unfair on our supporters and our clubs."