Pre-Christmas All-Ireland club finale?

There I was, about to have, as Lily Allen put it, a little whine and a moan. My complaint was about the elongated nature of the club championships, which spills right over from the back-end of the old year well into the new one, thoroughly buggering up the early part of the league in the process. This is especially the case if – as has happened to us this year – your county champions are successful in the pursuit of their respective provincial title.

Given the head of steam that the club action builds up as Autumn morphs into Winter, there’s no good reason why this momentum cannot be maintained for the two additional rounds of games it would take to finish the damn thing well before the Man in Red comes down the chimney. It makes no sense whatsoever to put the club action into cold storage for two months and Ballina’s obvious ring-rustiness yesterday showed how difficult it can be to maintain adequate focus over such an extended period of hibernation.

That, essentially, was my moan but, according to this report in Saturday’s Indo, it looks like the powers-that-be have already started to harrumph about it as well. It looks as if common sense might be about to break out on this one and that we could see the club timetable being amended to ensure the completion of the All-Irelands before Christmas. While this would mean that the senior football and hurling finals would lose their prime Paddy’s Day slot, the lure of a big pre-Yuletide evening out under the lights at Croker would seem to be a fair exchange.

Such a move would, of course, leave a gap in the fixtures calender as Paddy’s Day has traditionally been a big day for the association. In the old days, of course, the Railway Cup finals drew large crowds (I’m old enough, just, to remember when these matches still generated significant public interest) and the club finals then slipped neatly into the vacuum created by the waning interest in the inter-provincials. (I still can’t understand why the Railway Cups fell from public favour and still cling to the perhaps outdated belief that they could successfully be revived but that’s one for another day).

One option would be for the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon finals to be held then or maybe even the U21 finals (though that would cause a direct clash with the third-level tournaments, turn the U21s into a winter championship and result in players lost to league panels – no, forget that one). Suggestions, anyone?

3 thoughts on “Pre-Christmas All-Ireland club finale?

  1. I agree with you over the delay in the club championship. Was it the Wicklow or Kildare champions that missed out due to a county final replay this year. Vincents marched on, then they sit and wait for two months. Sadly what this will ultimatley lead to is a division between club and county. With the advent of grants for county players , they, the counties will hive off thirty players who will be contracted to the county. In the early 1990s St Marys and Young Munsters packed Landsdowne for the last match of the first division game that would decide who were champs. Today the province rules and club rugby commands the same space as a report on a basketball match. Of course the Railway cup should be put on for St Patricks day. When I was a kid we were so proud when Corcoran, Langan, Prendergast, Morley, Rooney and McGee held their own with the Galway lads and won two Railway cups in 1967 and 1969. Its a disgeace that we have failed to land a single one since. The Railway cup wins of the early 1990s gave the Ulster teams the platform to experiment and gain confidence. Alas Ballina, however I suppose Nemo were also ring rusty as well but I am surprised how anemic Ballina were.

  2. You know Willie, I thought for a long time that the Railway Cup would rise again. After this year though, I’ve given up. Under lights at Croker was a great idea but the fact of the matter is that for all their blather, I don’t think the players really could be bothered playing it.

    This is the Connacht team that lost to Ulster in the semis: P Greene; C Harrison, F Hanley, J McKeon; D Meehan, D Blake, K Higgins; R McGarrity, B Cullinane; M Brehony, S Armstrong, A Moran; C Cregg, D Maxwell, K Mannion.

    Now, if you sat down to pick a team after the Connacht Championship last year, would it look like that? No, it would not. You read quotes from Christy Ring and those fellas about how much playing Railway Cup meant to them and it’d be lovely to think that was still true but I’m afraid the hard facts are that it’s not. Whatever they might say to the press, the players couldn’t give a toss about the Railway Cup, that’s why it’s dead and that’s why it’s not coming back.

    It’ll the Leinster Senior Cup Final live on TV on St Patrick’s Day soon enough Willie, I’m afraid. It’s very sad but that’s the way Ireland is at the moment.

  3. I think that Connacht team sums it up perfectly, Spailpin! I’d love to see a full-strength and competitive interprovincial series rise again – it’d be far better, for example, than that Aussie nonsense – but I think you’re right, that day is done.

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