"I think Wexford football is in trouble if something is not changed" - Banville criticises Wexford lay-out
The Wexford club calendar is like marmite.
They changed it up in 2020, the Covid year, and of all of the changes and all the switches and all the shifts caused by the pandemic, you could argue that, down in the sunny-south-east anyway, none of them have been as hotly debated as the change that was made to the Wexford club championship.
You either love it or you hate it.
First, when the county board decided to run off the hurling championship before even starting the football, the word was that it was all down to Davy Fitzgerald. That he wanted his hurlers fresh for the championship and what have you. Davy flat out denied this but the fact remained the same, and the format has continued.
Waterford also run off their championship the same way, with demarcation lines between the two codes and while many favour this kind of set-up, just as many oppose it.
Wexford chairman Micheál Martin has said that it's a big advantage to dual clubs, being able to focus on one code at a time but renowned dual players such as Noel McGrath don't agree. Having won the dual double in Tipperary in 2021, McGrath and his Loughmore-Castleiney team-mates have always maintained that mixing the two is the way to go, and that it freshens the whole thing up.
This hurling one week, football the next model is also suiting Upperchurch-Drombane in Tipperary this year, with The Church one game away from reaching both finals in 2022. The same system is deployed in big dual counties such as Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Clare.
Whether hurling or football, @churchdrombane have 40 players training. Many of them are brothers. More are cousins. Hurling is the first love but on a senior panel of 30, only 3 or 4 don't play football. The story of how football took hold is worth telling.https://t.co/w2ncbuQBAP
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) September 29, 2022
It's not so much the set-up that's annoying Horeswood and former Wexford footballer PJ Banville, it's the fact that the hurling championship has been ran off first every year, with footballers having to wait. St James' footballer Graeme Molloy also made the same point about the Wexford championship.
“It’s getting harder every year, especially with the way the system is," Banville told Wexford GAA tv.
"I’m hoping the GAA will do something; I’m hoping they’ll put football first.
"With football coming second, it’s very hard to fully concentrate. We didn’t have a practice match this year, believe it or not.
"We went straight into a championship with no trainings for ten weeks. There was six or eight weeks of hurling, the lads were hurling for three weeks before that and rightly so.
"It’s so hard for football teams. We’ll be hoping that next year, football teams will have a proper crack at it. Being straight honest with you, I think Wexford football is in trouble if something is not changed. It’s only fair if they switch every year,” he added.
Peter Mernagh spoke to PJ Banville following Horeswood's victory over the Ferns in the Quarter Final of the Amber Springs and Ashdown Park Intermediate Football Championship on Sunday afternoon in Chadwicks Wexford Park. pic.twitter.com/F81Mq8aOoj
— Wexford GAA (@OfficialWexGAA) October 3, 2022
Wexford is rather unique in the sense that they have a greater percentage of dual players than most but, with Molloy, as well as former Wexford footballer and London manager Ciaran Deely backing up Banville's point, it's possible that changes could be made down the line.
I’ll add my voice to this & echo points made by @pj123_ and Graeme Molloy
- if clubs continually vote for Hurling first, the County Executive need to step in for good of the game & administer it themselves
- it must be alternating years or weekends (my own personal preference) https://t.co/4LnfZHRDbz
— Ciaran Deely (@CiDeely) October 3, 2022
"We don't shy away from any big talking points," Wexford chairman Micheál Martin told SportsJOE earlier this year. "Our championship is a big discussion point, the split season, and we're not claiming it's perfect, it's probably something that will be up for discussion at the end of the year."