CLARE County Board chairman Michael McDonagh has supported 1993 Derry All-Ireland winner Joe Brolly’s suggestion that the inter-county league and championship system should be completely overhauled.
In fact the Miltown Malbay clubman has told The Clare Champion that the national hurling and football leagues should start in January, while the All-Ireland finals should be completed by August 1.
“I think the clubs have been let down by an expanded inter-county scene and I think it’s now time to start a national debate on it. My own opinion is that the inter-county leagues should start in January and finish by March. We should be able to run out county leagues in tandem with that,” McDonagh said.
“Inter-county championships should start in April and finish by mid July. This would enable our club championships to start in August and finish by the end of September. I don’t think there should be any such thing as the McGrath Cup or the O’Bryne Cup. I think they should be basically put to one side and I think we should get rid of the training ban at the end of the year,” he added.
Now in his second stint at inter-county chairman, McDonagh believes that there will be no change in Clare in 2015 with regard to the club v county player availability issues.
“In Clare I believe that we’re going to have the same problems over the next 12 months because we’re going to be successful at inter-county and our hands are tied. Now is the time to start a debate. It’s not a county board problem, I think it’s a Croke Park problem. This should all be debated at national level and of course some people may have a better system. The club/county fixture crisis is being kicked to touch and we need to look after our elite players but we also need to look after our club players. If we look after our grass roots players in a proper manner, we will have a very vibrant organisation but we can’t do this without guidance from Croke Park,” he maintained.
He said that the implementation of a 13 day rule, whereby county players are unavailable to their clubs during that period before championship matches, would not work. He believes that his championship suggestion would lead to the inter-county season finishing much earlier than September.
“The All-Ireland finals would be on August 1 at the latest,” the county chairman stressed.
By Peter O’Connell