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22nd Mar 2018

Kilkenny club Championship is way worse off this year due to new calendar and it sums the mess up

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

The new hurling championship format was sold as an alleviating solution to the on-going club fixtures problem in the GAA but it has somehow managed to worsen proceedings in Kilkenny.

According to JJ Delaney, the Kilkenny club hurling championship was working well under the old championship format and the new system has actually set their fixtures back by months.

Speaking on the latest GAA Hour, Delaney said that condensing the championship has not lived up to its promise of shoring up club fixtures and has actually had the opposite effect in Kilkenny.

“Every other year we played championship hurling in Kilkenny we always played four championship games, whereas, this year we have two games in April and then we don’t know when the rest of them are,” he said.

Since the end of the Ballyhale domination, the Kilkenny hurling championship has been one of the most competitive and fiercely contested in the country and hosts some of the finest hurlers.

It was appropriate then, that up until this season, it was one of the best run club championships in hurling.

The competition is a league championship featuring two groups of six, guaranteeing every team at least five games.

According to the Fenians clubman, the club calendar is now up in the air thanks to the new All-Ireland format.

“Will we play one? Will we play two? Will we play any? We don’t know at the moment,” he complained.

“It just doesn’t make sense!”

The break in fixtures means that training for the clubs is extremely disjointed. Delaney added that, as a club hurler, his calendar is all over the place.

“So at best, we could have two games in April and have the month of May off after training from January. It should be the other way around. We should have January off and then be training in May but we wont be.”

“June, July and August you’ll be back for your championship games again. So you’re after being flogged for three months, have May off, and then go back in training again.”

The problem with fixtures was made a whole lot worse with Storm Emma disrupting games across the country. While the games that bared no impact on relegation, promotion or league triumph were cancelled, many had to be changed to another date.

The rescheduling of these inter-county games furthered the fixtures problem, but Delaney wasn’t blaming the unseasonably miserable weather. The Kilkenny legend said that the GAA should have had a plan in place for any weather eventuality.

“It was a worse case scenario that no one ever thought would happen. It did happen and we’re dealing with the consequences now,” he said.

“There was no plan B, that’s my big gripe about this whole thing. You have to think about the worse case scenario and do a swot analysis on the whole concept.”

“Something was bound to happen. It did and there was no plan B.”

Listen to the full interview and much more from The GAA Hour Hurling Show right here.

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