Sigerson-All-Ireland Club clash a shambles: St Enda's Glengormley ace James McAuley
ST ENDA’S Glengormley ace James McAuley has described the clash of fixtures that will rule him out of Sigerson Cup action this weekend a “shambles”.
McAuley and club-mate Odhran Eastwood won’t be able to play for Queen’s this Sunday because their Sigerson opener against Maynooth University directly clashes with St Enda’s All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final against An Spideal in Navan.
“I just think the whole thing is a shambles, to be honest. It’s just very frustrating,” said McAuley.
“I knew a few weeks ago about the clash of dates but I thought it would have been sorted. But it’s now set in stone. It’s hard enough for players to manage club and county and college commitments without having games on the same day.”
Despite being in his fifth and final year, the highly-rated centre-back has never kicked a ball in Sigerson for Queen’s and may never get the chance should St Enda’s make it to an historic All-Ireland final at Croke Park.
“I’m doing a masters and I’m in my final year but I’ve never played Sigerson. The two years that I was available to play I was injured. Last year I was going quite well but three weeks before Sigerson I tore my hamstring.
“So it would have been nice to get an appearance against Maynooth.”
Sigerson group games have traditionally been played mid-week but teams have been given the option to play them at weekends this weekend due to exam time-tables.
“Some Maynooth players had exams this week so they refused to move the game, so the game was fixed for Sunday [at Queen's Arena]. There didn’t seem to be any wriggle room. I know Shane Mulholland [Queen’s manager] and Aidan O’Rourke [GAA Development Officer] were trying to get it sorted but to no avail.
St Enda’s, Glengormley duo Peter Healy and Eoin Nagle will also miss UCD’s Sigerson tie against Cork IT due to their All-Ireland club commitments.
The Hightown club's manager Frank Fitzsimons described the GAA calendar and fixture clashes as “mental” and called for the All-Ireland Club Championships to be wrapped up before Christmas.
McAuley (22) echoed his club manager’s sentiments.
“The ideal scenario would be the All-Ireland Club campaigns are run off before the new year. That would be the easiest solution.
"I think Sigerson is a really important competition in the GAA calendar. It has grown and grown year on year, but you need other people to sort these things out. I’m just a player at the end of the day.”
All Sigerson hopefuls will have more than one game in the competition as a back-door has been created this season.
“I really enjoy playing for Queen’s. It has definitely improved me as a player. The standard is very, very high. You’re playing with and against county players. You look at UCD who won Sigerson last year and they have about 20 county players in their panel.
"You’re playing against quality opposition. So I’d encourage all the lads at St Enda’s to play for their university team because I’ve got a lot out of it and it has brought me on as a player.”