What even is April club month? The time will come when club players will not return
There's going to come a time when lads just won't return.
Lee Keegan and Aaron Gillane both played club championship games last weekend. Gillane has another one this Sunday but then that's it.
Patrickswell won't be out again until the end of Limerick's summer. Westport the same in Mayo. Going on both county's form, that won't be until September, but that's not even the point.
For Keegan and Gillane it's okay. They're back in with Mayo and Limerick straight off the bat. Training will be hard and intense with the buzz of those summer championship Sundays within smelling distance.
The GAA is so good and this is the best time of the year. So good that it can keep them all at home without a question asked.
For their Patrickswell and Westport teammates, it's more of a joke. Those particular teams have been lucky enough to get two games in (many club players around the country have only gotten one), but it's not as if they've hit the jackpot either.
If they've won their games, it's relatively immaterial because it's so early in the year and all the progress and momentum they've built is going to be lost in the next listless few months. If they've lost, even worse because the mood is in the gutter for the summer and lads will be dreading coming back. They even might not bother.
There's a reason these boys are knee-deep in Skyscanner rather shooting drills.
They make up 90% of the GAA's playing population but the bottom line is - just because they can't bring in concrete, instant funds like the county players can, nobody really cares.
They'll tell us they do but the proof is in the pudding.
The hurling round-robin and the Super 8s were great but if the reason they were brought in was for having more games, why the hell is every club pitch in the country empty in May through to June, July and August?
Why the hell are there more hurlers in San Francisco than there are in north Tipperary when the sun is shining?
YES, the fixtures calendar wasn't perfect before last year but if there was a bit more co-operation and if the world revolved a bit less around inter-county managers, then this could have been fixed a hell of a lot easier than the situation we have now.
A few less inter-county games. Something, anything for club players. If anything just to keep them around.
The scent of a game. The thoughts of summer ball. That would have kept them going.
Instead, they've nothing to build on, nothing to aim for, nothing to play for, nothing to stick around for. Nothing.
"Realistically our (Wesport's) next championship game will be in September," said Keegan to us this week.
"So that’s a long time for club lads to be waiting around. I’m one of the oldest lads in our own squad so a lot of them will be heading off to New York on their J1, and they’re dead right to do that, why would they wait around when there is nothing to play for?
"I think we have three or four rounds of the league left and then a little break for the guys, so yes it’s definitely tough. It’s tough to get guys’ heads on and clued in for a summer there’s probably no uncertainty or doubt that there’s going to be no games. They need to enjoy themselves, its part and parcel of club and of their life."
Keegan - a giant and one of the most admirable GAA players this island has produced shouldn't have to answer that question with such guilt. He shouldn't have to return to club training this September guilty.
Neither should Aaron Gillane.
"They'll have league but playing league and championship is two totally different things," says the Patrickswell man "You would feel sorry for them, some of the people you can't blame them for going away to America for the summer" said the Patrickswell man.
The time will come too when they won't see the point in coming back.
Mayo footballer Lee Keegan joined Limerick hurler Aaron Gillane, Mayo ladies footballer Niamh Kelly and Kilkenny camogie player Anna Farrell in Croke Park to launch the 2019 John West National Féile and to announce that John West will renew its sponsorship of the National Féile for a further four years until 2022.