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Sunday 24 September 2017

Boden blast game plan

Hogan slams proposal for clubs to lie idle in summer

SEVERAL of Dublin's top senior hurling clubs look to be on a collision course with the county board over the scheduling of this year's Dublin SHC.

The clubs are dissatisfied with a proposal which will go before hurling delegates next Monday night in Parnell Park, formulated as a solution to the massive delays that beset last year's competition and threatened to leave Dublin without representation in the Leinster club SHC.

The new proposal -- conceived by former Dublin full-back and Cuala clubman, John Treacy, at the request of county board chairman, Andy Kettle -- would effectively see a shutdown of the club championship during the All-Ireland SHC and a resumption of local activity in late September.

Champions

However, county champions, Ballyboden St Enda's will submit their own proposal, based loosely on the fixture schedule utilised in Kilkenny, Tipperary and Cork whereby club championship matches are played throughout the summer in the immediate aftermath of (their respective) inter-county games.

"If Kilkenny, Tipperary and Cork can play championship games through the summer, there is no reason why Dublin can't," Ballyboden manager, Liam Hogan told the Evening Herald.

"My own personal preference would be that the weekend after Dublin play in the league or championship would be a weekend for the club championship.

"The current system has been a disaster and hasn't worked. Anything is better than that."

Furthermore, 'Boden propose to combine the league and championship into one competition comprising two groups of seven with further play-off and relegation rounds, meaning each team in the competition would be guaranteed at least eight matches.

The proposal is the result of massive frustration within the club and to arrest what Hogan described as "the massive disconnect which is growing between county players and their clubs".

Hogan has been left exasperated at the lack of meaningful hurling in the summer months and his disillusionment with the Adult Hurling League, which he insisted has been reduced to the point of farce.

"Crumlin finished level on points with us in last year's league," he outlined.

"We had a vastly superior scoring difference but they went through to the final because they had beaten us on the head-to-head.

"That head-to-head was played in Páirc Uí Mhurcú when we had three of our county final team. We had 16 players that evening. We had two players who got injured and Brian O'Regan -- who is one of our selectors -- had to go in corner-forward to keep 15 on the pitch.

"Crumlin beat us under those circumstances so they got through to the league final. How meaningful then is the league?"

"The benefits of the Ballyboden proposal is that the club players are playing meaningful games at an appropriate time of the year," he continued.

Threat

"Each game has more meaning because each game matters. If you don't do well in the league/championship format, you're under severe threat of relegation.

"The proposal that Ballyboden has submitted is not perfect," he accepted.

"But one of the reasons for those flaws is because of the system that pertains in Dublin at the moment -- where you have clubs in the senior 'A' championship playing in the 'B' league and vice versa. How ridiculous is that?"

Kettle insisted that Monday's meeting of hurling delegates, which will be chaired by Crumlin's Eamonn Potts, will hear all relevant proposals and then decide on the most acceptable programme before making a recommendation to a full meeting of the county committee on the last Monday of January.

Last year, the championship ran chronically behind schedule due to Dublin's extended run in the All-Ireland SHC but Ballyboden insist their manifesto would avoid such pitfalls and with the relaxing of the 13-day rule, leave ample time between a round of club fixtures and inter-county matches.

"There should be," agreed Kettle. "But the problem gets complicated again in the instances where there are dual players."

Fears

Despite fears that the scheduling of matches during the inter-county calendar would adversely affect the Dublin senior hurling team, Hogan is adamant that a programme of significant matches could benefit Anthony Daly in the long run.

"Conor McCormack was a revelation last year for Dublin," he offered, by way of example.

"But to my mind, Conor McCormack was playing better hurling the year before but no one saw him because there were no championship games being played.

"How many other Conor McCormacks are there? Do we know? How can we know if there are no games?

"No one wants to deprive county teams a chance of winning championships," he insisted.

"Dublin hurling is on the crest of a wave at the moment and we all bask in the reflected glory of that success. Anthony Daly and the lads deserve massive credit for what they have achieved.

"But it must be borne in mind that for every player on the Dublin squad, there are 14 club players who are just lying idle during the summer," Hogan added.

"That's a situation that we have to address."

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