Trio of GAA stars support split-season proposal
By John Harrington
At SuperValu’s ‘Support Where You’re From’ launch today, their ambassadors Damien Comer, Cian O’Sullivan, and Ryan McHugh all proclaimed their support for the possibility of the GAA adopting a season split between inter-county and club action on a permanent basis.
The Covid-19 pandemic required the GAA to adopt such a split season this year and the response to it has been so positive that GAA President, John Horan, instructed his Fixtures Calendar Review Taskforce to look into the possibility of how it might work on a permanent basis.
Horan’s preference is for inter-county action to take place in the first half of the year followed by the club championship in the second-half, with the taskforce due to issue updated recommendations for Central Council to discuss in December.
Galway captain Damien Comer, long-serving Dublin defender Cian O’Sullivan, and Donegal star Ryan McHugh all believe such a proposal would be the best way forward for the game.
Damien Comer said: “Yeah, I do, and I think the majority of people I've been talking to have favoured the decision. I think it has opened up that door for an uninterrupted club championship.
“I think it allows a bit of fairness to the club. They had us for two or three months, albeit some of the time we were training on our own or in smaller pods, but it was actually nice and refreshing to go back to the club and give them the time they wouldn't have had in previous seasons.
“It leads to not interrupting the inter-county season either because normally around April you're coming away from one or two championship games in the lead up to a Connacht Championship game or just after a league or in between league games.
“I suppose it takes out the distraction of players leaving different panels. For me, I thought it was very refreshing to do it this year. It gives that bit of fairness that the club players need.
Cian O'Sullivan said: “I definitely share Damien's views. Since I've been involved since 2009 this was probably one of the few years between then and now that I probably felt like we got a dedicated block to dedicate fully to the club season where you're fresh and not coming off the back of a long inter-county season. It's not taking you a week or two to get your head back right into a club campaign.
“I'd certainly be in favour of it. I really enjoyed it and I know from speaking to the rest of the lads around the squad that everyone enjoyed the time with the club as well. The April month the last couple of years has worked okay, but it's a little bit disruptive coming in and out for a month and then trying to switch mindsets from one team to another.
“So the idea of having a definitive, uninterrupted block where you're with the club and playing all your games in the county championship before the inter-county stuff, I think that's definitely something that I would welcome going forward.”
Ryan McHugh said: "Yeah, same as the two boys. I think it's only fair to your club and to your county that when you're with either one you're giving them 100 per cent focus and effort. I think that's the only way to do it, to have two separate seasons if you want to call it that where you can give 100 per cent focus to each. Because I think they take up so much time and effort, both, that they deserve 100 per cent effort.”