Hurling & Camogie

Conor Whelan would like to see August dates for All-Ireland finals

Conor Whelan would like to see the All-Ireland finals played in early August rather than late July
Conor Whelan would like to see the All-Ireland finals played in early August rather than late July

GALWAY hurling star Conor Whelan has called on the GAA to push the All-Ireland senior finals into August to allow the Championships to properly breathe.

Sunday’s senior hurling decider between Limerick and Kilkenny will barely be over when attention turns to the following week’s football decider between Dublin and Kerry.

Former MacCarthy Cup winner Whelan said he’d favour a longer build-up as well as a bigger gap between the two finals.

“I definitely think that in terms of the build-up to the final, it could be given three weeks to allow people to prepare properly... I suppose people are almost digesting the semi-final and then the final is on,” said Whelan who was named PwC/GPA Player of the Month in hurling for June.

“That’s probably a fairly valid point in terms of the football (swallowing up the hurling final reaction), I could see how it kind of gets lost in it, especially because it’s week on week between the two finals.

“I’d like to see the hurling final pushed out until the start of August. I think it would be fair and then have the football in mid-August. There’s obviously challenges there in terms of the split season and stuff like that.

“I know in Galway, our club championship is scheduled to finish in the middle of October. Is it much difference if it went another two or three weeks? I don’t think so.”

Whelan was Galway’s stand-out player in a summer of close calls that ultimately ended in disappointment.

A stoppage-time goal for Kilkenny cost Galway the Leinster title, directing them down an All-Ireland series route that ended with a

semi-final defeat to Limerick.

Boss Henry Shefflin said it didn’t feel like they’d made progress in 2023 and it remains to be seen if he returns for 2024.

The Kilkenny great was initially appointed for three years with a review after two, the point he’s currently at.

“We have huge belief in Henry and massive respect for him,” said Whelan. 

“I think people forget, he’s travelling from Kilkenny. He has a family, he has a wife, he has a job so the players have massive, massive respect for Henry. He’s never taken one shortcut, he’s never missed a training session.

“He’s always been enthusiastic, always been eager and we have massive belief in Henry and massive trust in him. 

“People have to also understand that he’s taking on a Galway team that’s going through a period of transition and that’s a very, very tough job as well. As players we have huge respect for him.”

Whelan described it as a tough task trying to pick between Sunday’s two finalists. Galway were beaten by both teams at different stages of this year’s Championship.

“It’s very hard to pinpoint a weak line on a Limerick team that is going for four in-a-row,” he said. 

“I think they are going to be a massive challenge for the Cats but I think Kilkenny will be very confident in their own selves as well.

“This Limerick side now is going for four-in-a-row and you’d have to give them massive credit, they are a very organised group with talented players and they are a massive challenge. 

Any team that overcomes that challenge will have earned it.”