Friday, June 17, 2022

Over the past two weekends we have seen four finals of the All County Leagues, two in hurling and two in football, and next weekend will see three more football finals and one in hurling. Those remaining will take place over the following two weeks and while the clubs involved have enthusiastically engaged and will do so it would be wrong to presume that the leagues have been an outstanding success.
Competitive finals tend to divert attention from what has preceded them for throughout the leagues the number of walkovers, or games conceded in both hurling and football, exceeded acceptable levels. Clubs should not enter teams in league competitions unless they are certain to have the numbers to fulfil their obligations.

For example, last weekend saw the final rounds of league fixtures in most divisions of the hurling leagues but of the 22 games listed only eleven took place across the divisions with games conceded by teams who were out of contention for final places. In two cases we had concessions which allowed the last weekend’s Division 9 and Division 10 finals to take place with Ballygunner defeating Lismore in the former and Dunhill beating Tramore in the other. That Ballygunner’s third string won a league title by playing just one game, the final, is farcical in itself as they had received walk overs in all of their league games.
Last Friday’s final round game in Division 1 of the hurling league between Lismore and Dungarvan saw Lismore conceding for the second time in the competition and, following on, Dungarvan have conceded tomorrow’s re-fixed clash with Ballygunner, a decision which, depending on last evening’s result of the game between Passage and Roanmore, could decide Mount Sion’s opponents in the Division 1 final.
It is a fact that where championship preparations are concerned most senior clubs play in the leagues because they have to and there are no penalties set out for clubs who give walk overs. Few senior clubs take the competition seriously and would prefer to go their own way in preparing for the championship with games against opposition from outside the county.
Incorporated in the Waterford Rising strategic Plan is a section covering Competition Structures which, we are told, is the remit of a Task Force, “Set up to realise the unique opportunity in scheduling that would be available from 2022 with the split inter-county and club seasons”.
As a matter of priority, the said Task Force should undertake an immediate review of all competition structures in the county and if All County Leagues are to continue they must be made attractive to clubs with meaningful rewards for the victors. At present there is a trophy for the league winners in each division but no medals for the winning teams.
That there are no sponsors for the leagues is unacceptable and serves only to downplay the product. There should be some tangible reward for clubs winning the leagues such as a set of jerseys, hurleys or playing gear of some kind. All sponsorship seems to be directed towards the county teams while clubs face huge expenditure in providing hurleys and sliotars.
The said ‘Task Force’ should now be sitting down with County and Divisional Board officers seeking to come up with meaningful proposals for next year’s competitive club season.

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