GAA fixtures calendar is mental: St Enda's, Glengormley manager Frank Fitzsimons
FRANK Fitzsimons has blasted the GAA calendar after two of his St Enda’s, Glengormley players won’t get the opportunity to play for Queen’s in the Sigerson Cup due to a clash of fixtures.
Ulster Intermediate football champions St Enda’s face Connacht champions An Spideal in an All-Ireland semi-final in Navan on Sunday, while Queen’s are due to open their Sigerson account against Maynooth University at Queen’s Arena on the same day.
Queen’s duo James McAuley and Odhran Eastwood will be on club duty this weekend while Sigerson holders UCD won’t have Peter Healy available to them as he is also hoping to help St Enda’s reach an All-Ireland final.
Fitzsimons described the clash of fixtures as “mental” and doesn’t understand why the GAA calendar can’t be tweaked.
The former Antrim manager, who is in his first season with the Glengormley club, would also like to see all competitions concluded in the calendar year instead of spilling into 2019.
The Antrim champions defeated Cavan’s Mullahoran in the Ulster decider at the beginning of December and have had to wait until Sunday to participate in the All-Ireland series.
“They have to finish competitions in the calendar year,” Fitzsimons said.
“For senior, you would nearly have to make your mind up if you’re a club player or a county player because it’s very hard to do both if your club gets a bit of a success.
“I can see the problems Derry have had over the last four or five years with the Slaughtneil boys going so well and missing a lot of the county season, and a lot of their players were playing both codes.
“I would prefer everything was finished in the calendar year and I think the players would too. And I think it would be easy enough to do, to be honest.
“At intermediate level we’re going three or four weeks less than the seniors as they go to St Patrick’s Day.
“And the fact the Queen’s Sigerson Cup match clashes with ours is another reason why the calendar should be condensed. It’s mental.”
In order to keep things fresh between their Ulster triumph and next Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final clash with An Spideal, the St Enda’s players took to the beach for some winter training sessions.
“We trained a few times on Waterfoot beach, which is beautiful, just to try and change it up a bit,” said the Lamh Dhearg clubman, who is assisted by Pat Hughes and Thomas McNulty.
“I was even getting sick looking at the pitch and so were the boys. All in all, things are going well. It’s the first time we’ve been in this situation, so you’re trying new things, but you definitely just couldn’t stick to the pitch for your preparations.”
The north Belfast club spent a weekend in Donegal where they played Ulster senior champions Gweedore in a challenge match.
The Donegal champions fielded close to their full strength squad apart from county ace Odhran Mac Naillias who was sidelined with flu.
“We did okay for 50 or 60 minutes and they ended up winning by eight or nine but by that stage both teams had got what they wanted out of the match. Gweedore were very strong and well organised.”
St Enda's also played a challenge game against Queen's last week as they put the finishing touches to their All-Ireland semi-final preparations.