There is a perception that senior GAA officials want to scrap the inter-provincial championships. That is not the case.
However, what officials have been pointing out for some years now it that running the competition is proving extremely difficult on a number of fronts.
The biggest problem has been finding suitable dates for games. Given the crowded nature of fixtures programmes at national and inter-county level, the competition has alternated between the Spring and the Autumn/Winter.
There is a solution, but one I suspect that will not find favour with many. Play the finals in conjunction with the club finals, with the football in Croke Park and the hurling in Thurles.
How would the club hurling finalists feel about missing out on a big occasion in Croke Park? I think readers know the answer to that question!
Two less games in the NHL and excellent weather at the start of 2012 meant little disruption to the leagues. Where would the dates have been found had last year’s League structure operated plus a few postponements due to inclement weather?
Players have a genuine interest in the competition, but not all of them. Clashes with club competitions in the Autumn/Winter have deprived some players of participating in the competition.
Attendances at inter-provincial games have dwindled significantly over the decades, but I do not use this as a reason for scrapping the competition.
Then there is the cost factor! I do not know how much it cost to run this year’s competitions, but from previous knowledge I suspect it was not less than €50,000. That would include ground rent, travelling and subsistence to players and mentors, playing gear, refereeing costs and general administration.
Martin Donnelly’s sponsorship must be acknowledged, but that only covers a portion of the running costs. By all means retain the inter-provincials, but stop romancing about great days and great players from another era who thrilled huge attendances with their array of skills.
The current fixtures pot is filled to over-flowing and something has to give if the GAA is to find a permanent time and place for what was certainly a flagship competition.
No real excitement
In the region of 550 patrons were in Nowlan Park on Sunday to witness Leinster score a deserved eight-point win over Connacht. The winners controlled the opening half, slackened off for around 20 minutes of the second half and steadied at the finish to score a deserved victory.
The game was devoid of any real excitement and the intensity level was low. Two weeks ago the semi-final between Leinster and Munster provided much more enjoyable fare. I am sure all the Leinster players will cherish their winners medal, particularly those who were first timers.
Many factors remain as to whether the inter-provincials have a future, but ultimately it is about finding suitable dates. With likely dates at a premium, the best option is probably to run the competition over a single weekend.