IT COULD be last year, the year before, the year before that and as far back as you care to remember.
What are we talking about?
The local championship. The senior, intermediate and junior football championship. First round this weekend. The rest? Who knows.
August? September? October? Think of a month (and add on a week or two, or three).
Despite all the protestations. Despite all the talk. Despite all the promises nothing has changed.
One round now the rest ... when ever.
And no, I am not pointing the finger at the Competitions Control Committee (CCC) of Kildare GAA. Far from it.
That committee, under the direction of Vice Chairman Ger Donnelly, is doing as good a job as you would hope they would do but the problem is essentially out of their hands.
Whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not, the fact of the matter is that everything is controlled by Croke Park and the provincial councils.
And in there lies the problem.
Now the Football Review Committee (FRC) under the chairmanship of Eugene McGee, is currently examining the club structure throughout the land and will be (hopefully) coming up with proposals,
McGee and his committee are certainly wished all the best in their endeavours. But unless, and until, the structure of the provincial championships are altered, and altered radically, it is hard to envisage any major changes with regards club fixtures.
Abolishing provincial councils is a no no.
No congress will vote to disband what is essentially themselves, so there is no use going down that line.
There is talk that ‘redrawing’ the provinces to make it into four equal numbers, in other words four provincial championships with eight in each.
It would be a radical change but already Galway and Antrim hurlers have moved into Leinster, so there is a precedent there already.
It is a proposal that deserves to be looked at and looked at seriously as it would allow the provincials, the qualifiers and the All Ireland series to be played in a much tighter time frame, thus finally and genuinely, allowing proper time for club championship to be played in a proper pre-organised time frame
Of course that would also mean that each provincial championship would be run under the same guidelines and rules.
The time for each provincial council running their individual championships as they see fit is surely long gone by its sell by date.
Some councils have a seeded draw; some allow beaten finalists straight through to semi finals, etc., etc, time for that cob wash to be consigned to the bin.
Allowing for a free weekend, here and a free weekend there so clubs can get on with their local championships (or leagues) just does not wash.
Last weekend was a case in point in Kildare when it was left to county players themselves (after training for something like six nights on the trot plus the Sunday morning) to play with their clubs, provided they were not carrying knocks.
That is surely not the answer.
If there were four provincial groups of eight with games played in a pre-determined (and tight) time frame that would surely be a start.
But having said that, and despite Eugene McGee’s FRC endeavours, one has to wonder that in five or even ten years from now will we will still be talking, still complaining, still hoping for change?
Time to act is now; time to change is now.
Before it is too late!
- Tommy Callaghan