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Need To Readjust Split Season To Make It Work Better For County And ALL Clubs

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There's lots of support for the split season from players and clubs and undoubtedly it is a good thing and is here to stay. But it needs to be readjusted to work for BOTH the inter-county game and for ALL clubs.

Mid July is too early for the All Ireland finals in hurling and football....from a promotional point of view it is literally giving the field over to other sports to capture the hearts and minds of the public and when massive global or pan European events like the Olympics, European Cups and World Cups in rugby and soccer (this year's event taking place in November being an exception for the soccer World Cup) are scheduled as they nearly always are for the high summer, media coverage of the latter stages of the All Ireland championships will suffer as a result.

But the split season as it currently stands, does not suit all clubs either. As the article below from the RTE website shows, club players are continuing to go over in droves to the US to work and play for the summer. Maybe that works out ok for clubs in some counties but I know that the Gort club in Galway had 3 of their best players playing in the New York club hurling final 2 weeks ago and in the meantime Gort had lost 2 group club championship games and are now effectively out of the Galway hurling championship. I noticed 2 other good Galway club hurlers from other clubs on the teamsheets of that NY final as well.

We need to move to a split season of club games exclusively from September to March and the inter-county season running from April to August. That way clubs will not be affected by the summer migrants to the US and the inter-county game will at least appear not so squashed and over in a flash like it seemed to be this year.
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See the interview below with Clare forward Keelan Sexton published on the RTE website :

Split season makes American Dream a reality for players and clubs
Updated / Sunday, 4 Sep 2022 08:17
By Eoin Ryan
RTÉ Sport Journalist

The GAA summer transfer to the US of A has long held mutual appeal.

The chance for an exotic (sometimes working) holiday with a bit of ball thrown in is an easy sell to young inter-county players while the clubs benefit from some high quality recruits.

The tradition has not been without its controversies of course, such as the late Galway hurler Tony Keady being made a public example of for an unsanctioned club appearance in New York in 1989, and former GAA president Sean McCague threatening to ban the practice altogether in 2002.

The harlequin nature of the season up until this year complicated matters, with players often making hasty departures after their county's championship exits and missing club campaigns, or sitting out the year with the county.

But the introduction of a more defined inter-county season, and most counties not starting their club championships until August, has opened a window for players to sample all three experiences, if that's what they want.

Clare forward Keelan Sexton first travelled to play for Donegal Boston in 2019, having left the panel after survival in the Allianz Football League was assured.

This year, he initially turned down the opportunity but, after Clare were beaten by Derry in an All-Ireland quarter-final, found himself on a plane days later.


Sexton (R) in action for Kilmurry-Ibrickane back in 2016
"I think I was on the panel four or five years at that stage and just needed a break for the body," the 25-year-old Kilmurry-Ibrickane man told RTÉ Sport of his first venture Stateside. "It definitely recharged the batteries

"I really enjoyed it. The weather is good. It's a great city, there is loads to do and it's a great base for travelling.

"I had been asked earlier in the season if I was interested and I said no, I was obviously hoping we could go further with Clare than we did. It turned out we didn't and that was on a Saturday so I said 'Why not, I'm probably not going to get too many more opportunities'.

"I got back to family members and it happened fairly quickly, I was on a plane I think by Tuesday.

"It was nice because I knew with the club and inter-county season being split, I wasn't going to miss a whole pile. I missed one [club] game. You don't feel half as guilty then. You want to give as much time to the lads you grew up with as you do with the county."

Sexton was finishing a law masters in Trinity this summer and will shortly start work as a trainee solicitor so decided to take the opportunity for a footballing holiday while he still had the option.

"You can do your travelling, see what you want to see and you're keeping fit as well," he said. "That's an added bonus, you're not just out there partying.

"I was actually getting my masters thesis finished at the time so I was going into the Boston Common Library and taking it easy, seeing a few sights. I visited a couple of friends up in New York, we got down to Cape Cod a few times, in and around the city. Boston is a great city and Logan Airport has connections to everywhere.

"I can only speak to Donegal but they were absolute gents. The guys who run the club, Paddy McDevitt and a few others, they are sound out. They're really accommodating, picked you up for training, gave us lifts, anything at all. You couldn't speak highly enough of them.

"The houses were brilliant. You would get work if you wanted to and had a visa organised, a couple of guys were on J1s.

"Guys who are out there years and lose their job are looked after by the club straight away. You nearly feel it's more what like the GAA is out there than what you think it is at home. The Irish abroad are the stereotypical Irish person who will help anyone anyway they can, it's even more prominent out there, I think, than at home."


Donegal Boston celebrate their 2018 championship win
There are four senior teams in Boston, who play each other in a group stage, followed by a semi-final and a final.

PoolSturgeon (Galway) - Posts: 1901 - 04/09/2022 14:20:21    2439634

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The split season timescale is ok. They just need to adjust the time window. The current inter county season is February to July. I would agree with March to August. Club season then from September to February.

legendzxix (Kerry) - Posts: 7805 - 04/09/2022 17:52:59    2439651

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Replying To legendzxix:  "The split season timescale is ok. They just need to adjust the time window. The current inter county season is February to July. I would agree with March to August. Club season then from September to February."
What about Sigerson and Fitzgibbon then? When would they be played? I've been watching the Fitzgibbon the last few years and there are great matches with many intercounty and good club players from every hurling county playing in it.

Viking66 (Wexford) - Posts: 11680 - 04/09/2022 19:23:14    2439662

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Replying To legendzxix:  "The split season timescale is ok. They just need to adjust the time window. The current inter county season is February to July. I would agree with March to August. Club season then from September to February."
When do you have an off season then?
with that kind of structure you suggest some players will never get a break

KillingFields (Limerick) - Posts: 3493 - 04/09/2022 20:15:09    2439669

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I think you're both completely off the mark. Having club fixtures only from September through to February/March would mean probably 98% of players would never get to play a match during the summer at all.

And 98% of club players don't go the States or anywhere else for the summer. The ones who stay home shouldn't have to wait until September for a match, just to accommodate the small minority who do go travelling.

Pikeman96 (Wexford) - Posts: 2215 - 04/09/2022 20:37:04    2439676

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Replying To Pikeman96:  "I think you're both completely off the mark. Having club fixtures only from September through to February/March would mean probably 98% of players would never get to play a match during the summer at all.

And 98% of club players don't go the States or anywhere else for the summer. The ones who stay home shouldn't have to wait until September for a match, just to accommodate the small minority who do go travelling."
who'se off the mark?

KillingFields (Limerick) - Posts: 3493 - 04/09/2022 21:29:25    2439688

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Tyrone Championship starts on the 22nd September. (I think) Tyrone were out of the championship in may.

The championship will be played in the wind and the rain - does not finish under end of October. What's the point of a split season when clubs are playing at the exact same time, same as other years.

Why not play in the height of the summer - 3 weeks after Tyrone were knocked out. Good weather/crowds etc.

The_Fridge (Tyrone) - Posts: 2088 - 05/09/2022 10:42:35    2439717

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@KillingFields - I think the ones off the mark are the first two posters (Poolsturgeon and legendzxix), who are saying club action should only start in September and then run through the winter.

They're the only two posts that were already visible here at the time I typed my earlier reply.

Pikeman96 (Wexford) - Posts: 2215 - 05/09/2022 10:49:02    2439720

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I completely and whole heartedly disagree. The split season is fantastic. The crowds at club championships cannot be underestimated. There's your promotions of the game. Kids running onto the pitch the weekend at kilmacud crokes for signatures.

Club players should not be treated like a nuisance for the sake of arm chair fans or glory fans who know nothing past country matches.

BluenYellow (Louth) - Posts: 126 - 05/09/2022 10:50:32    2439721

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Replying To legendzxix:  "The split season timescale is ok. They just need to adjust the time window. The current inter county season is February to July. I would agree with March to August. Club season then from September to February."
I agree the split season idea is a good one but the dates are wrong. I don't think there is a need to make radical changes, just play the All Ireland hurling final three weeks later and the football final four weeks, this will allow two weeks between the two finals and a bit of room to solve the issues.

The All Ireland knockout series shouldn't be decided on penalities in the first game in my opinion so one replay after extra time from QF onwards can take place with the slight schedule change. I do think the GAA need August from a marketing perspective and whilst the benefits to US GAA are great for the clubs and the players benefiting from travelling, I struggle to see the need to rush through the All Ireland championships to facilitate it.

sam1884 (UK) - Posts: 999 - 05/09/2022 11:10:28    2439724

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Also to point out to the original poster (Poolsturgeon) that an inter-county season running from April to August would be even more "squashed" than this year's, which ran from January to July.

I reckon he's barking up two wrong trees.....

Pikeman96 (Wexford) - Posts: 2215 - 05/09/2022 12:16:20    2439737

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Replying To PoolSturgeon:  "There's lots of support for the split season from players and clubs and undoubtedly it is a good thing and is here to stay. But it needs to be readjusted to work for BOTH the inter-county game and for ALL clubs.

Mid July is too early for the All Ireland finals in hurling and football....from a promotional point of view it is literally giving the field over to other sports to capture the hearts and minds of the public and when massive global or pan European events like the Olympics, European Cups and World Cups in rugby and soccer (this year's event taking place in November being an exception for the soccer World Cup) are scheduled as they nearly always are for the high summer, media coverage of the latter stages of the All Ireland championships will suffer as a result.

But the split season as it currently stands, does not suit all clubs either. As the article below from the RTE website shows, club players are continuing to go over in droves to the US to work and play for the summer. Maybe that works out ok for clubs in some counties but I know that the Gort club in Galway had 3 of their best players playing in the New York club hurling final 2 weeks ago and in the meantime Gort had lost 2 group club championship games and are now effectively out of the Galway hurling championship. I noticed 2 other good Galway club hurlers from other clubs on the teamsheets of that NY final as well.

We need to move to a split season of club games exclusively from September to March and the inter-county season running from April to August. That way clubs will not be affected by the summer migrants to the US and the inter-county game will at least appear not so squashed and over in a flash like it seemed to be this year.
________________________________________________________

See the interview below with Clare forward Keelan Sexton published on the RTE website :

Split season makes American Dream a reality for players and clubs
Updated / Sunday, 4 Sep 2022 08:17
By Eoin Ryan
RTÉ Sport Journalist

The GAA summer transfer to the US of A has long held mutual appeal.

The chance for an exotic (sometimes working) holiday with a bit of ball thrown in is an easy sell to young inter-county players while the clubs benefit from some high quality recruits.

The tradition has not been without its controversies of course, such as the late Galway hurler Tony Keady being made a public example of for an unsanctioned club appearance in New York in 1989, and former GAA president Sean McCague threatening to ban the practice altogether in 2002.

The harlequin nature of the season up until this year complicated matters, with players often making hasty departures after their county's championship exits and missing club campaigns, or sitting out the year with the county.

But the introduction of a more defined inter-county season, and most counties not starting their club championships until August, has opened a window for players to sample all three experiences, if that's what they want.

Clare forward Keelan Sexton first travelled to play for Donegal Boston in 2019, having left the panel after survival in the Allianz Football League was assured.

This year, he initially turned down the opportunity but, after Clare were beaten by Derry in an All-Ireland quarter-final, found himself on a plane days later.


Sexton (R) in action for Kilmurry-Ibrickane back in 2016
"I think I was on the panel four or five years at that stage and just needed a break for the body," the 25-year-old Kilmurry-Ibrickane man told RTÉ Sport of his first venture Stateside. "It definitely recharged the batteries

"I really enjoyed it. The weather is good. It's a great city, there is loads to do and it's a great base for travelling.

"I had been asked earlier in the season if I was interested and I said no, I was obviously hoping we could go further with Clare than we did. It turned out we didn't and that was on a Saturday so I said 'Why not, I'm probably not going to get too many more opportunities'.

"I got back to family members and it happened fairly quickly, I was on a plane I think by Tuesday.

"It was nice because I knew with the club and inter-county season being split, I wasn't going to miss a whole pile. I missed one [club
game. You don't feel half as guilty then. You want to give as much time to the lads you grew up with as you do with the county."

Sexton was finishing a law masters in Trinity this summer and will shortly start work as a trainee solicitor so decided to take the opportunity for a footballing holiday while he still had the option.

"You can do your travelling, see what you want to see and you're keeping fit as well," he said. "That's an added bonus, you're not just out there partying.

"I was actually getting my masters thesis finished at the time so I was going into the Boston Common Library and taking it easy, seeing a few sights. I visited a couple of friends up in New York, we got down to Cape Cod a few times, in and around the city. Boston is a great city and Logan Airport has connections to everywhere.

"I can only speak to Donegal but they were absolute gents. The guys who run the club, Paddy McDevitt and a few others, they are sound out. They're really accommodating, picked you up for training, gave us lifts, anything at all. You couldn't speak highly enough of them.

"The houses were brilliant. You would get work if you wanted to and had a visa organised, a couple of guys were on J1s.

"Guys who are out there years and lose their job are looked after by the club straight away. You nearly feel it's more what like the GAA is out there than what you think it is at home. The Irish abroad are the stereotypical Irish person who will help anyone anyway they can, it's even more prominent out there, I think, than at home."


Donegal Boston celebrate their 2018 championship win
There are four senior teams in Boston, who play each other in a group stage, followed by a semi-final and a final."]Let it be. It's fine. Limerick is winning. And club hurlers getting the best of the sod all August and into September. Long may it continue as it is.

foreveryoung (USA) - Posts: 1901 - 05/09/2022 12:20:54    2439738

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A full season all year round.ok when county players finish are they not entitled to time off??from what I've seen most players who went traveling missed hardly any matches with their clubs..some counties havnt even started their championship yet..I'm in favor of what way the year has gone,now may be extend the county season to finish on August weekend..

CTGAA10 (Limerick) - Posts: 2202 - 05/09/2022 13:23:51    2439742

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Replying To The_Fridge:  "Tyrone Championship starts on the 22nd September. (I think) Tyrone were out of the championship in may.

The championship will be played in the wind and the rain - does not finish under end of October. What's the point of a split season when clubs are playing at the exact same time, same as other years.

Why not play in the height of the summer - 3 weeks after Tyrone were knocked out. Good weather/crowds etc."
That's what we did down here in Wexford. Thought that was what every county was supposed to do. Wasn't that the point in the 1st place?

Viking66 (Wexford) - Posts: 11680 - 05/09/2022 13:57:29    2439745

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Replying To sam1884:  "I agree the split season idea is a good one but the dates are wrong. I don't think there is a need to make radical changes, just play the All Ireland hurling final three weeks later and the football final four weeks, this will allow two weeks between the two finals and a bit of room to solve the issues.

The All Ireland knockout series shouldn't be decided on penalities in the first game in my opinion so one replay after extra time from QF onwards can take place with the slight schedule change. I do think the GAA need August from a marketing perspective and whilst the benefits to US GAA are great for the clubs and the players benefiting from travelling, I struggle to see the need to rush through the All Ireland championships to facilitate it."
The intercounty season isn't rushed through to facilitate lads going on holidays. It was done in the deal made with the CPA to facilitate club players and club championships. There's not much any county or club can do about any player going on holidays. These are amateur players who can go on holiday whenever they want. If a small number of players are on holiday it's up to the clubs and counties concerned to change their minds on what dates they go. The fixtures are the fixtures at the end of the day and there's no need to change them because a very few lads are on holiday in the US or anywhere else.

Viking66 (Wexford) - Posts: 11680 - 05/09/2022 14:02:18    2439748

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Replying To The_Fridge:  "Tyrone Championship starts on the 22nd September. (I think) Tyrone were out of the championship in may.

The championship will be played in the wind and the rain - does not finish under end of October. What's the point of a split season when clubs are playing at the exact same time, same as other years.

Why not play in the height of the summer - 3 weeks after Tyrone were knocked out. Good weather/crowds etc."
In fairness, I think that's a reflection on how you do things yourselves in Tyrone, rather than a reflection of the broader picture of the split season and how it applies in other counties.

To the best of my knowledge (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!), you spend most of the club season there playing a comprehensive club league, where 16 teams all play each other, so there are 15 rounds of fixtures? And then follow it up with a straight knock-out championship between those 16 teams?

Might be better to split the league into two groups of eight (so seven rounds of matches) and then change the championship on the basis of four groups of four, with the top two in each group going into quarter-finals, for example.

But if people there actually want the full league followed by knock-out championship, then the split season is actually working for you rather than against you, since it allows you to play the whole lot straight through without it being interrupted by inter-county matches.

Pikeman96 (Wexford) - Posts: 2215 - 05/09/2022 14:20:35    2439753

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Let it be. It's fine. Limerick is winning. And club hurlers getting the best of the sod all August and into September. Long may it continue as it is.

That is what I posted. Somehow, someway, my great opinion got tangled up with other posts of quite dubious opinions.

foreveryoung (USA) - Posts: 1901 - 05/09/2022 15:30:26    2439764

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Replying To Viking66:  "That's what we did down here in Wexford. Thought that was what every county was supposed to do. Wasn't that the point in the 1st place?"
Done the same in limerick,4 rounds of football championship and 3 rounds of hurling championship played,what's the hold up in Tyrone.

cityman73 (Limerick) - Posts: 775 - 05/09/2022 15:49:29    2439770

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There is probably a backlog of club players that have been looking to play in the US over the last couple of years due to Covid where players could not travel which has led to inflated numbers this year. I don't think you can look at this a consequence of the split season. The business end of the club championship is always around Aug\Sept so players that travelled prior to the split season introduction missed games of less important. It has offered a certain amount of certainty for players in terms of planning their return and getting some game time in local championships.

If the GAA see a trend in this over the coming years it may need to be addressed. The split season is great for the club and inter county players but leading to less media coverage, TV etc on a national level which is ultimately is bad for the game.

journeyman (Limerick) - Posts: 107 - 05/09/2022 17:14:23    2439778

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Replying To Pikeman96:  "In fairness, I think that's a reflection on how you do things yourselves in Tyrone, rather than a reflection of the broader picture of the split season and how it applies in other counties.

To the best of my knowledge (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!), you spend most of the club season there playing a comprehensive club league, where 16 teams all play each other, so there are 15 rounds of fixtures? And then follow it up with a straight knock-out championship between those 16 teams?

Might be better to split the league into two groups of eight (so seven rounds of matches) and then change the championship on the basis of four groups of four, with the top two in each group going into quarter-finals, for example.

But if people there actually want the full league followed by knock-out championship, then the split season is actually working for you rather than against you, since it allows you to play the whole lot straight through without it being interrupted by inter-county matches."
Yes, we have the senior, intermediate and junior club leagues first, and those end up with the top 4 in each having a knockout play-off anyway, so even our league ends up being played on a knock-out basis. Then the championship which is 100% knock-out. And you're right, it's a novelty to be able to play the league without lots of players ruled out of "starred" games due to county duty. As you can imagine, a smaller club often will be heavily reliant on its county contingent, and not having them for key league matches makes a mockery of the league tbh, so even on that basis, the split season is a good help. There is a wider question of course about merging both competitions into a league championship. Of course, we all know of teams that traditionally are strong in the league, but are blown aside when the championship starts, and there is an element of tradition around a "championship team" who respond well to the challenge of a pure, high-stakes, knockout championship format. Split season may not be perfect, but it's certainly better than it was.

points50swiththeargyllsonthewrongfeet (Tyrone) - Posts: 237 - 05/09/2022 17:16:11    2439779

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