Double Ulster champs want help from the GAA to ease manic All-Ireland schedule

September 19, 2021 0 By HearthstoneYarns

DERRY CHAMPIONS SLAUGHTNEIL will be bidding for a remarkable All-Ireland senior club double in 2017.

And they are hoping for a little help from the GAA fixture-makers to give them a chance to prepare properly for that.

As it stands Slaughtneil face Dublin’s Cuala in an All-Ireland hurling semi-final on Saturday 4 February before they are scheduled to take on Dublin’s St Vincent’s in an All-Ireland football semi-final on Saturday 11 February.

But the Derry kingpins – who won a historic Ulster double this season – are hoping that the GAA will give them a two-week break between those massive games for their club.

“Logistically it’s not easy to plan either in terms of how you prepare but we’d be hopeful that we can put a measure in place with the GAA that they could at least have a two-week break between the hurling and football All-Ireland semi-finals,” says Slaughtneil’s Chrissy McKaigue, the Derry senior who is a lynchpin for both club sides.

“Obviously we’d be hopeful but we have to prepare for the worst case scenario too. Whatever will be, will be. But as I said before, we would like to think that Croke Park or the CCCC or whoever the organising body is, would help us out a wee bit.

“Asking for two weeks between All-Ireland semi-finals is not a huge ask really. I don’t think it would upset the calendar too much.

“There’s five weeks to the final after the All-Ireland semi-finals, I don’t think a week delay would hurt anyone.”

Chrissy McKaigue lifts the Ulster senior club hurling trophy

Source: Presseye/John McIlwaine/INPHO

McKaigue is keen to stress that they are not complaining about the unique situation they face.

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Slaughtneil are only the second club ever to be planning an assault on both All-Ireland senior campaigns with Cork’s St Finbarr’s having won the football title in 1981 while they were denied the hurling crown at the final stage.

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“I’m very careful to look at them kind of things because they look like excuses and Slaughtneil don’t do excuses. We’ve played in a lot of big games in the last four years, won a few, lost a few. We’ve learned a lot from them.

“So we’ll just prepare the best we can and follow the model that we have done in balancing the two codes and we’ll see where that takes us.

“I’m very reluctant and very careful not to complain too much because we’re in a very privileged position but we would like a wee bit of help from the governing body.”

Francis McEldowney lifts the cup after the Ulster football final

Source: Presseye//INPHO

27 year-old McKaigue is currently involved with the new Club Players Association, which will be officially launched in January. He believes that a fixture change like this would deliver a positive message.

“Unfortunately common sense isn’t always a hot topic in GAA I think. I’m very proud to be part of the Club Players Assocation too and our biggest task there is to try and fix the fixture chaos.

“It wants to promote all its games in the clubs, what better message than giving Slaughtneil a week leeway after an All-Ireland hurling semi-final to prepare for their football. It would put out a really strong message that the GAA wants to promote all its games.”

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