It’s just dawned on me that the month of March is going to be utterly mad in terms of the football. Mad of the stark, raving kind. Completely fucking balubas. It was only when I read in this morning’s Indo that Wexford manager Jason Ryan was having a moan about the scheduling of league games this year that I saw just how mad and bad it’s going to be. It’ll almost be as daft as the way they do the championship: yes, it’ll be approaching that bad.
We have matches on each of the four Sundays in March (how’s that for promoting domestic harmony?), with an U21 Connacht tie against Galway (and, if we win that, an U21 Connacht semi-final match the following weekend) thrown into the mix as well. And just to get us all well prepared for this month of helter-skelter, we’re now in the first week of a nice little three-week mini-break, for no better reason but to let a few clubs hog the entire limelight next weekend.
I’m all for the club championships but surely to Jaysus it could be run off in its entirety in that fallow period of three months between the All-Ireland and Christmas, culminating in a huge orgiastic fandango under the lights at HQ? Stopping all inter-county activity for three weeks at this time of year, with the consequence that a fixture pile-up occurs in March, seems an odd way to promote the club championships. Sure, we all love those annual showdowns between the Ballyhale Shamrocks and Portumna but we don’t love them that bloody much, now do we?
And what about all that pious cant about burnout? Like many other counties, some of our lads are still U21 and so they might end up playing six times for their county over the course of March. You can just imagine the puss that Johnno’ll have on him when that happens.
PJ has said to me more than once that he prefers the league games to the championship and I know what he means when he says that all those nerve-shredding moments in high summer can’t be good for one’s constitution but what I like about the league is the nice, easy rhythm you get into with the games. Week on, week off, week on, week off – so it goes as winter gives way to spring and thoughts start to turn to summer (when the rhythm is week on, several weeks off, then on again, then another long wait and then – if you’re still in it – three Sundays in a row). But now it appears that those sensible league scheduling lads have been ousted by the championship timetabling ogre who just sits back on his fat arse, fucks all the fixtures up into the air and then fixes the games for wherever they happen to fall.
And so we’ve got Westmeath on the 8th, the U21 Connacht first round against Galway on the 14th, the away match with Kerry on the 15th, the U21 Connacht semi-final (though only if we manage to beat Galway) on the 21st, the Dubs on the 22nd and the trip to Galway on the 29th. See, I told you – March will be mad, bad and dangerous.