Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Moving All-Ireland final to August would ‘benefit GAA as a whole’ says ex-Orchard ace Aaron Kernan

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FORMER Armagh defender Aaron Kernan believes moving the All-Ireland football final into August would “be of benefit to the GAA as whole”.

The Crossmaglen man was one of the leading voices in the Club Players’ Association (CPA), a one-issue organisation whose mantra was to “fix the fixtures”.

Having been established in 2017, it disbanded in 2021 after the GAA voted in a split season between club and inter-county games, with the All-Ireland hurling and football finals subsequently brought forward to the end of July.

However, with the National League finals rolling into the provincial Championships, and little let-up from that point onwards, it remains a major talking point within the Association.

Earlier this month Donegal manager Jim McGuinness spoke out against the All-Ireland Championship being completed prior to the arrival of the late summer months, while GAA president Jarlath Burns has said the door isn’t closed on a return to the traditional dates, which saw the hurling and football Championships completed in September.

Kernan, who was with Burns when those comments were made on GAAGO’s new ‘Ratified’ show, feels it would be “a backward step” to revert to the way things had been previously.

However, he admitted that – after two years of the split season – it may be time to consider giving the All-Ireland Championships an extra fortnight.

“There has been a bedding-in period and everyone’s trying to learn,” he said.

“As someone who was for the CPA and the split season, I do now realise that it’s wishful thinking to have a calendar year because there are just so many games between your club, county, universities… it’s so hard to factor it all in.

“It was the 15 month calendar of starting in January and trying to win an All-Ireland the following March that was always a big issue, it dragged out the club season way longer than it needed to, so I have no problem with that having been pulled shorter.

“But at the same time I do also appreciate maybe what the GAA have lost in terms of exposure and building up for an All-Ireland hurling final, the excitement and the euphoria that comes with it, then giving it no time to roll over because the football final is a week later.

“It’s been going for a few years now, but maybe we need to knock the football finals back two weeks into August, because no team who plays in a League final should be playing the following weekend.

“There should be a two week break for everybody from the end of the League, let it wind down, then build up and launch your provincials.

“Then I would like to see a couple of week break between the All-Ireland hurling and football finals. If that means taking the football final into August, so be it.

“We’re all in this together, we want this to work for everybody, and I don’t think club players would have a major issue with giving up that two weeks because ultimately it would be to the benefit of the GAA as a whole.”

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