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Winter wait leaving fans cold

BY the time Kilkenny hurlers play Offaly in their opening game of the new season next Sunday, it will be their first outing for 21 weeks since they won the All-Ireland final.

Tipperary's 20-week and two-day wait for a return to action ended against Clare last night while it will be 27 weeks since Galway were eliminated from the championship when they play Laois next Sunday.

There's no other sport in the world where three of the top attractions would be inactive for so long.

Yes, the GAA has a problem fitting club action into a multi-layered schedule but can hurling really afford to go so long without showcasing its big stars?

As it happens, both Henry Shefflin and Joe Canning had extended runs with their clubs but otherwise they would be missing from the frontline for several months as was the case with many others.

I won't pretend to have the answer but there's clearly a problem when hurling, which is relying on relatively few counties to promote its image at the highest level, has so many of its top stars inactive for so long.

It's as bad in Gaelic football where many counties signed out of the championship in early July and didn't resume until mid-January.

Irish Independent