Many would have expected after the defeat by Mayo in the All Ireland quarter-final that we would have been in the middle of the club championship.
All year clubs have been given date after date for the next round of the club decider. However, it’s easy to believe that the tail is wagging the dog when it comes to the club fixtures.
From what I have heard, the fixtures committee prior to the Mayo game fixed the quarter-finals for the weekend of September 14th/15th.
Maybe they were expecting Donegal to get to the All-Ireland semi-final but none the less they confirmed the date.
They gave it to the club players who have waited all summer exactly the information they needed to carry on with their lives.
Players, like supporters, like to go on holidays and for years very little respect has been shown towards club players when it has come to fixtures during the summer months.
Indeed I know of one county player who on leaving Croke Park asked a county board official would the September dates still stand.
When the official confirmed the date he booked his summer holiday only to hear a couple of days later that the dates had been changed.
Thankfully after the county committee meeting last week the dates have been reconfirmed.
The clubs left in the championship can set out their schedules in order to give it their best shot.
But it does ask the question why did it take a number of clubs who had players away to threaten the board with a appeal to a higher body in order to get the dates switched back to September?
To be fair to the county board and those involved in making the fixtures, they could have come under pressure from other people to get the championship played and out of the way.
Jim McGuinness could have seen the tiredness in his players and realised that many of them need a number of months off before they go back into training for another campaign next year.
It could also be possible that the county board would have wanted the championship to go ahead in order to bring in much needed finance.
With the county team out of the championship their stream of revenue would be curtailed
I have no doubt there would be plenty of outstanding bills to pay. If the quarter-finals had to go ahead last weekend it could have brought in a fair return as the interest in football within the county is still quite high.
But if it’s left to September the interest might fade. Again, it is down to one thing and one thing only - if you don’t set your championship fixtures in stone and stick by them you are always going to run into trouble.
There is very little respect or consideration shown towards ordinary club players.
If the county team are doing well they spend the whole summer training and with only a few clubs willing to play without their county players, many club footballers might only have three or four games in June, July and August.
If the county team don’t have a good run in Ulster the clubs still have to wait for the qualifiers to end before they are given any idea when they might get to play again.
Last year a number of young lads went to America for the summer thinking they might leave their clubs in the lurch.
However, they only missed a couple of league games knowing there would be no football during the summer months.
It worked for them. They had a great time in the States and missed nothing at home.
They done the same this year and guess what they missed nothing.
We have to devise a system that is best both for the county team and their manager but we also have to give greater consideration towards the clubs.
It’s not acceptable that players who give everything they have for their home town and parish play very little when conditions are at their best.
We seem to be more content in looking after our interests short term rather than looking at the bigger picture.
How long do we think we can keep producing good enough club players to play at county level if we don’t put the proper structures in place.
Club fixtures are amongst the first things we have to get right. We made the same mistake after 1992 but to be fair no-one would have had any experience of how to develop our structures at that time.
Surely we have learned from those mistakes and we don’t have to wait for another 15 or 20 years for another good group of lads to come along.
Look at our neighbours in Tyrone. Regardless how they are doing at county level their senior club leagues continue either with or without their star player.
They then play their championship on the dates that were set out at the start of the year.
In the last 10 years they have continuously produced teams that are capable of winning the All-Ireland championship every year.
It’s a contentious subject as there is a lot of club politics going on.
But considering the amount of young players leaving the county every year we might soon have to consider what is more important.