Sunday 18 August 2019

Two championship games in four days an insult to players

Alan Aherne's On The Line

A frenetic hour is expected in Cushinstown this Tuesday evening when Gusserane and Horeswood lock horns in their final group game of the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship.

It's a crucial outing for both sides. Last year's runners-up need to win to make certain sure of qualification and to ensure that they keep matters in their own hands and are not reliant on other results going their way.

The situation is arguably even more serious for their New Ross District rivals, as Horeswood must target both points to avoid a relegation final meeting with St. Fintan's. A draw may suffice but they cannot be sure

Therefore, it's safe to assume that the game will reach championship fervour from the throw-in and the participants won't relent until the last shrill blast of the referee's whistle.

And bearing that in mind, it defies belief that the C.C.C.C. has fixed both clubs to play must-win matches in the Enniscorthy Electrical Wholesale Junior hurling championship a mere three nights later.

Yes, on Friday Gusserane will face Tara Rocks while Horeswood while meet St. Mary's (Rosslare), and a look at the Group B table shows how tight it is between top and bottom, meaning that both clubs simply cannot afford to lose. They're not the only two scheduled to play twice in four days, but I've singled them out because of what's at stake in the matches outlined above.

Their players, many of whom work outside the county, will be in recovery mode Wednesday, and clearly it wouldn't make any sense to have a full-blown training session Thursday on the eve of Friday's matches.

Therefore, it's safe to assume that the most hurling practice Horeswood and Gusserane players will get in before the end of the week will be a few leisurely pucks of the ball just to tune up their touch.

How can the C.C.C.C . justify this? Often times when criticism is aired at a fixtures committee, the stock response is: 'sure they're only implementing what the clubs voted for at the start of the year'.

Well, I can state without fear of contradiction that no club in this county sought a system whereby it has to play two must-win championship games in different codes in a mere four days.

It seems to me that this is borne out of a desire to have every adult championship down to the quarter-final stage before the end of August, but at what price to players?

I realise that September is an unkind month for the C.C.C.C. given the days lost for the All-Ireland Senior finals plus the welcome headache of being in another Under-21 hurling decider.

However, this week's scheduling is an insult to clubs and their players, and there is no justification for it in my view.

The complete absence of consistency is another personal bugbear. The last round games in some grades are all being played simultaneously, but some is the word to stress here.

Surely it should be in all 20 groups, or in none at all. It's not being applied in one Intermediate football group for example, but it was in the other.

I accept that certain games couldn't be played at the weekend due to the Under-21 hurling encounter, but it means that some clubs playing tonight have the benefit of knowing exactly what they need to do in order to meet a particular team in the knockout stages.

And then by the same token, two of the Senior football games being played simultaneously tonight are dead rubbers, yet the C.C.C.C. still used this method when fixing them in the first place.

The committee issued a dictat recently stating that they wouldn't be considering requests from clubs to play games on specific dates from now on. Again where's the consistency in this, because they did try to take queries on board for the rounds played in April and May?

Who gave them the authority to change tack at the very time when the games are assuming even greater importance for clubs, with survival high on the agenda for many?

I note with interest that a meeting on fixtures has been called for September 16. I hope the clubs will get some answers to these questions, and many more besides, because the growing anger is justified.

Wexford People

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