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 (I still can’t understand why the Railway Cups fell from public favour and still cling to the perhaps outdated belief that they could successfully be revived but that’s one for another day).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?