Mary I Fitzgibbon Cup manager Jamie Wall believes the new hurling structure, passed last month in a special congress at Croke Park, could potentially improve conditions for club players, adding that “it presents a huge opportunity for the club game”.
The new format – introduced for a trial period of three years – means that the Leinster and Munster Championships will be played off on a round robin type basis, with the top two of each five team group progressing into a provincial final.
The move sees an overhaul to the hurling calendar and an increase in the amount of inter-county games been played, something that has been met with widespread disharmony from the club scene who argue that it further complicates the current fixture crisis.
But speaking exclusively to the Limerick Voice, Wall, who managed Mary I to only their second ever Fitzgibbon Cup last year, believes this new format could actually provide club players with more structure to their calendar year.
“I am hesitant to full on slate it or back it because I haven’t seen it yet, but I do think that everyone is very quick to turnaround and say ‘oh it’s a disaster for the club player’ without actually thinking,” the 25 year-old said.
“OK, we know we are not going to have a senior club game in June or July, that’s a fact… But when did most club players in Cork or Tipp’ anyway play a club [championship] game in June or July? At least at the start of the year now, we know we are not going to have a senior club game in June or July… you didn’t have one last year anyway, so nothing really changes that much except the All-Ireland is being brought forward.
“What it does for me is presents a huge opportunity for the club game to take a step back and say ‘lets actually make the club game accessible’, the way it should be.”
Wall goes on to argue that a centralised fixture list from the GAA for the whole country is the only method of fixing the current fixture crisis, but says that this new format is a step in that right direction in that sense.
“Having definite dates set in for clubs, definite dates put in for counties, and at least with the new hurling structure, while it is potentially a move towards separating the county and club players if it’s done wrong, it could be very good for the club player,” he said. “For club players, half the frustration is not knowing when they’re not out, nearly more so than knowing when they are out.
“So potentially the hurling structure could be very good if the counties decide to manage it properly.
“The counties need to say ‘right, this presents an opportunity to put in a set structure for the club players in this county, so that they know; here’s my very competitive league, here’s my break, and here’s my championship.”
Read more of this wide-ranging and in-depth interview with Jamie Wall in the Limerick Voice, available in December.