GAA Leitrim GAA 2018 Inter-County Fixture list

Well meaning changes may exacerbate club v county fixture wars in 2018

John Connolly


John Connolly


Well meaning changes may exacerbate club v county fixture wars in 2018

Action from Leitrim's clash with New York in Gaelic Park in 2013 - Leitrim cross the Atlantic next year but Brendan Guckian's preparations may well be hampered by the new Club only season in April

A new era for Gaelic games starts in 2018 with drastic changes to the scheduling of inter-county games coming into force. But will it have the effect that the GAA obviously hopes it will? And what does it mean for the club game in Leitrim?

That club players up and down the country are getting a raw deal is not in dispute but the good intentions to schedule a nationwide Club only month in April and to bring forward all inter-county fixtures may, in fact, end up harming the club games in so many counties.

Ironically, Leitrim have this year completed their Club programme with only the U21 Championships still being played as all juvenile and adult club football has been completed in what seems like record time.

Achieving that feat wasn’t without its challenges and the decision to hold three midweek rounds of the Division One and Two campaigns this year met with quite stiff resistance and criticism.

To repeat this year's swift finish to club competitions next year will be even harder with less time and space in the calendar for the club game in the first six months of the year with the condensing of the county game, something that the new Master Fixture schedule has brought about.

The Leitrim Senior team are guaranteed just 13 games in 2018 between the Connacht Championship, Qualifier, Allianz and FBD Leagues and incredibly, 11 of those games will take place before the end of March!

The month of May features games for Leitrim Seniors, Juniors, Minors and the Senior Hurlers while June/July continues with the Minor and U20 grade.

And if Leitrim go on any sort of a run in the championship, at provincial or qualifier level, May, June and into July could be a wasteland for the club game.

So if there are to be any club games in the first half of the year, clubs will have to bite the bullet and line out without County players - something they have steadfastly refused to do in the past and something that is going against the wishes of their own  players.

According to Leitrim GAA’s survey of players, 62.8% of the 156 players who replied felt that clubs should play a number of League games without county players - a startling figure that goes against what club officials strongly believe.

The results of the survey are fascinating and there are further plans to revamp and strengthen the club game in the county but what clubs may face next year is most club activities being shoehorned into the second half of the year with Club championships concluding later and later.

Consider that Kerry have voted to start their County Championship next year in September and the law of unintended consequences definitely comes to mind.

And, in  a very important conundrum for Leitrim GAA, what happens next year when the month of April is set aside for Club activity only and Brendan Guckian and his management team want to prepare for a May 6, visit to Gaelic Park and a far from easy challenge from New York?

Does that mean Guckian will only have access to his players from May 1, next year? And will they face a month of club games ahead of the trip to New York?

As important as the club game is, what would the reaction be if Leitrim, God forbid, lose in the Big Apple?

Balancing Club and county is an almost impossible task but the county game is very much the shop window. It will take someone far wiser than me to sort it all out but when club players face their year being condensed into the second half of the year, including the primer Summer holidays, what will the reaction be?