herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Fixture farce needs change

AFTER last weekend's football famine comes the feast, with 12 SFC fixtures spread over tomorrow and Sunday. But why, oh why, such a lopsided June calendar?

Croke Park went on the counter-offensive this week, describing "simplistic criticisms" of the GAA's fixture scheduling as cringe-worthy ... but if the process is so incredibly "complex", then surely it behoves the HQ boffins to devise a cunning plan to simplify it all?

It simply doesn't add up to have just one SFC fixture last weekend and 12 this one (eight first round qualifiers and four provincial semi-finals).

All told, you had only five senior championship fixtures last weekend -- just two in the traditional Sunday afternoon slot -- and 14 over the coming two days.

True, we are not comparing like with like: the qualifiers must start some time. But in a rare period of soccer and rugby 'hibernation' the imbalance is far too stark, and surely Croke Park could take a greater lead when provincial councils are fixing their dates?



Freakish

Consider this: Galway footballers open their Connacht campaign against Mayo on Sunday -- eight weeks after Roscommon won in New York.

This is no freakish once-off, rather a perennial event in the 11-week marathon that is the six-game Connacht SFC.

At the very least, why didn't Mayo and Galway play a week earlier? Instead, barring replays, eight qualifiers will have exited the championship tomorrow evening before Galway kick a ball.

For those who think this fixture-making malarkey is all a bit crazy, the GAA's director of games administration and player welfare, Feargal McGill, said: "At times, you just have to laugh it off when you see people getting on soapboxes about something they don't comprehend."

As for why the 'back door' is only starting now, McGill explained that June 12 was the earliest possible date for the qualifier draw and that June 18 had to be kept free (last November) to allow for the possibility of New York beating Roscommon, necessitating an extra preliminary round.

Given this fiendishly complex scenario, Solo Run has a simplistic solution: rip up this convoluted format and start afresh!

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