Michael Murphy has the perfect solution for restructuring the championship fixtures 3 years ago

Michael Murphy has the perfect solution for restructuring the championship fixtures

Michael Murphy was like most players watching Congress unfold: bemused.

None of the changes really make his life any easier. They don't help the fixtures, they don't help the clubs, they don't help what is beginning to feel like a barren stretch of land that we now call the provincial championship.

The motions that passed at Congress last weekend don't really do much harm but they haven't exactly gone about tackling any actual problems.

The All-Ireland final has been pulled forward three weeks. That will free up the counties participating earlier than normal and it will help the semi-finalists too get back into club life a lot sooner. Adding another eight fixtures in total at the quarter-final stage is hardly going to be a breeze though and now with the shorter season, things are set to become very condensed and very hectic.

For Donegal's captain, there's only one real solution and that's to get rid of either the league or the provincial championship. At the minute, it's too much.

"The Super 8 concept, I don't think it's a bad idea but to play the National League, to play the provincial championship, to play the Super 8 and to still try and play for the club - to try and do all those things, I just don't see it happening," Murphy said with pure honesty and pure sense.

"Either the provincial championship or the National League is going to have to give way probably.

"The National League has been a huge positive as a player over the last two to three years in terms of the pace, the interest from all involved in it.

"It's just very disheartening to see that the crux of the whole problem for all players, both club and county, hasn't been addressed - that's the fixtures.

"We speak about it all the time and we're going to continue to speak about it. We have to do something about the fixtures in order to get a master fixture list to really know what you're doing. To know what day your club games are going to be on, to know what day your county games are going to be on. We're really not addressing the problem, we're just pushing it further down the line." 

Part of Murphy's idea is to bring the All-Ireland final even further forward and this is a man constantly in the thick of it with club, with county and with country. He doesn't mind playing more regularly. It beats these 15-month seasons we're trying to work into the one year.

"If we can play National League games every week or every two weeks, there's no reason why we can't play Championship games the same and play the All-Ireland final on the August Bank Holiday weekend," he said.

"I do believe speaking to the Tyrone players and speaking to our own players that they would be hungry for that too. We could then get playing with our clubs which we are mad to do. It's just at the moment, the way the inter-county fixtures, especially in the Championship, it is difficult to free yourself up to get playing with your club. 

"People point that it's down to the pressure coming from inter-county managers, there's pressure coming from some other areas, it's not down to that. It's down to you wanting to be physically well able and unfortunately then when you don't play, your club may not want to play as much too. We need to put a fixture plan in place."

The funny thing is, Donegal have copped flak over the last few years for how the club championship was put off indefinitely until the team were out of the All-Ireland series under Jim McGuinness.

The way Murphy sees it, at least they had a bloody idea of when they were playing.

"It's just put down the line but that's the way it's going to be, probably every year until we try to do something about it," he explained.

"At the very least in that scenario, at least you know it's [club championship] going to be then. Sometimes for some places, you don't know when the hell it's going to be. It could just be thrown on next week or it could be thrown on the week after.

"If you were to play your All-Ireland final on the August bank holiday weekend, that means the vast majority of the counties - barring the two that are in it - are going to be free from around the middle of July. It gives you most of July, August, September to get stuck in to play for your club. The clubs would know that, you would know it, everybody would know it - it would just be a no-brainer."