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Liam Kearns predicts 'chaos' if April is chosen as club exclusive month in the GAA calendar

“The month before your championship match is a crucial month.”

TIPPERARY FOOTBALL BOSS Liam Kearns has voiced his opposition to the notion that the GAA will cordon off April as a club-exclusive month in 2018.

Liam Kearns Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Next year will see the introduction of the Super 8s in place of the All-Ireland football quarter-finals, while a round robin format is coming into the hurling provinces.

In addition, the inter-county season will be far more condensed and is set to conclude on 26 August with the All-Ireland football final.

The GAA are yet to officially release a Master Fixtures Plan for the coming season, but it’s been suggested that April will be set aside solely for club action.

The Club Players Association has been vocal in its support for using April a club only month, and believes it would redress some of the imbalance between club and county activities.

The provincial campaigns in both codes would kick-off at the beginning of May, but Kearns believes it isn’t feasible for a county side to be without their players for an entire month before the championship begins.

“They’re talking about the championship starting on the first week of May,” he told Tipp FM today.

“Are they seriously saying that we’re going to release players to their clubs for the whole of April and then try to play the first round of championship in May? That doesn’t work.

Conor Sweeney Tipperary football Conor Sweeney Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“The month before your championship match is a crucial month. I really don’t know how it’s going to all work and like everybody else I’m waiting to see how this is all going to work. It’s going to be very interesting for everybody.

“Is every county going to release their players back to clubs for the whole of April and then start from scratch in May or how do they see this working? I just don’t think it’s been thought out very well and I think there could be a lot of chaos in relation to this.

“Until we see what the plans are or how it’s going to be structured we don’t know for sure.”

Speaking with The42 last week, Waterford county board chairman Paddy Joe Ryan also argued that a club only month in April wouldn’t work.

“I can’t see that happening,” he said. “Because what suits one county doesn’t suit another county. If it’s club exclusive weekends and you’ve something happening or going on and you can’t play matches.”

Dublin manager Jim Gavin allowed his players focus fully on club duties for five weeks in between the league and championship earlier this year, but he did so safe in the knowledge that a Division 4 team awaited them in their Leinster opener.

For a manager of a middle-tiered county like Kearns, who recently agreed on a new two-year term with Tipperary, there’s quite a lot riding on the opening round of the provincial campaign.

Most county managers would require at least a three-week window to work on fitness and tactics with their players before the championship opens, so Kearns is raising a valid issue on behalf of his counterparts.

“None of us know, the Super 8s is in now, and it’s the same in hurling – it’s very hard to predict how it’s all going to work out going forward,” he added.

Brian Fox lifts the trophy Tipperary’s Brian Fox lifted the trophy Division 3 trophy in April Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“We’re just going to have to wait and see how that all works out and how counties cope with the new structures that are coming in. It’s a very new period for all of us really.”

Kearns says Tipperary will return to training later this year in preparation for the league starting next January.

“We’re in Division 2 so we can’t afford to turn up to our first game or two short of fitness,” he said. “We weren’t at our best starting off in Division 3 last year but we got away with it. We won’t get away with it this year in Division 2.

“The last time Tipperary were in Division 2 they were relegated, they only played in it one year and they went down that year so it’s imperative we consolidate our position in Division 2 next year and that’s going to be one of our aims.”

To cater for the earlier start to the league, the pre-season competitions are facing the scrapheap.

Once the GAA release the Master Fixtures Plan in October or November, the picture for 2018 will become a little clearer.

You can listen to the full interview with Kearns below…


Source: Tipp FM Radio/SoundCloud

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