A good start is half the battle but an historic early start to the Club Championship season and last year’s successful new Group format means that this year’s Connacht Gold Senior, GWP Intermediate and Pryamid Bookmakers Junior A Championships pose a set of new challenges for clubs.
Clubs are quite used to waiting for Leitrim’s involvement in the Club Championship to end before starting their Club campaigns but the timing and gaps between Leitrim’s games gives the County Board a unique chance to experiment and try out a new system that plenty of other counties already use.
The early start might see first and even second teams in action much earlier than normal and then face a long wait but it will also allow the Junior A, B & C Championships proceed during the best time of the year, without ever having to worry about the completion of the primary competitions. It will also see the normal three or four month wait for championship action for Junior footballers evaporate.
The early start also means different challenges for clubs and with some having played seven League games, not forgetting Shield action, they should be raring to go next weekend.
Of course, the other big question is how clubs will fare as emigration continues to bite hard. With quite a number of walkovers in the League already, player availability is a real issue and teams that would normally be fancied to perform well may well struggle. It all adds to the intrigue of the championship.
Melvin Gaels start as defending champions but players losses will hit them hard and a Glencar/Manorhamilton side focussed on revenge are probably the early season favourites. But it promises to be a long season with many twists and turns before it is all over.