Ned Quinn, Kilkenny GAA Board chairman
Kilkenny admitted they haven’t a clue when they will be able to play local club fixtures next season in light of the proposed new inter-county games programme.
With the National League, Leinster and All-Ireland championships starting and finishing earlier than usual, it could end up that most if not all meaningful local fixtures could be pushed back to a starting time in September or so.
“There are interesting times ahead,” mused County Board chairman, Ned Quinn, when the new inter-county fixtures schedule agreed at a Special GAA Congress recently were discussed by the county committee.
“It won’t happen that we will go back to a knock-out championship,” insisted the Mooncoin official, who told the meeting that Kilkenny were absolutely against the agreed proposals. “We have to keep some form of a league going for the sake of clubs.”
The Allianz National Hurling League action commences on Saturday, January 27 when Kilkenny play Cork. It will finish at the end of March.
Time to train
April has been spoke about as being left clear for club games, but with the Leinster senior championship due to begin in early May, the county squad will have to be given time to train around that period.
Fitzgibbon Cup games have to be factored in around the Easter period, so they will add to the congestion in the late March early April period.
All this has to fall in with the new All-Ireland senior hurling final date of August 19 (2018) and the under-21 hurling All-Ireland on August 26. It will leave local games being squeezed.
“The suggested fixtures list doesn’t make good reading,” said Mr Quinn said, who added that Kilkenny had no idea when they could start or finish the local league/championships in 2018.
“It is a three-year trial period, but that is a long time,” he added.
Liam Dowling (St Martin’s) said it was going to be next to impossible to operate a league championship, but the county should keep an open mind on how to deal with the situation.
He wondered could April be used for something different, the slotting in of under-21 matches or something. Really, he felt, the month wasn’t open to clubs. There were about two weeks available.
Football Board secretary, Pat Mulrooney (Clara), envisaged lots of complications. He said he couldn’t see Kilkenny getting through their championships in a year when they would be contesting the senior All-Ireland, for example.
“If a county hadn’t its championship finish it wouldn’t be in a position to put forward representatives for the Leinster championships,” he pointed out.
“If a number of counties, especially the so called big counties, ended up in the same situation then the provincial competitions would be without big named clubs. Sponsors might not like that,” he added.
Meanwhile, a suggested fixtures schedule for the 2018 Allianz National Hurling League has been circulated to counties. The likelihood is that the suggested programme will be adopted.
NHL Division 1A (draft proposal) - Round 1 Saturday, January 27, Cork v Kilkenny; Sunday, January 28, Clare v Tipperary, Waterford v Wexford.
Round 2 Saturday, February 3, Tipp v Waterford; Sunday, February 4, Kilkenny v Clare, Wexford v Cork.
Round 3 Saturday, February 17, Tipperary v Wexford; Sunday, February 18, Clare v Cork, Waterford v Kilkenny.
Round 4 Sunday, February 25, Kilkenny v Tipperary, Cork v Waterford, Wexford v Clare.
Round 5 Sunday, March 4, Kilkenny v Wexford, Tipperary v Cork, Waterford v Clare.