The new provincial hurling championship format is “unworkable”, according to Waterford County Board chairman Paddy Joe Ryan.
The Waterford official was vehemently opposed to the current structure being voted through Special Congress last September, claiming it would be “one of the worst decisions in GAA history”.
Ryan has seen nothing in the past fortnight to change his mind and believes four championship games in as many weekends is asking too much of players.
Waterford will be without Tadhg de Búrca (broken collarbone), Barry Coughlan (hand) and Darragh Fives (calf) for the remainder of their Munster campaign owing to injuries sustained during Sunday’s defeat to Clare; the latest example, says Ryan, of the new format’s impracticality.
Captain Kevin Moran will also miss Sunday’s fixture against Tipperary after confirmation Waterford will not be appealing the red card he received in Ennis.
Uncertainty, meanwhile, surrounds the availability of Noel Connors (back), Maurice Shanahan (groin), Austin Gleeson (ankle), and Pauric Mahony (finger).
“Four weeks in-a-row is too much for players, management, supporters, and officers. It is too much for everybody. And I’m not just taking about Waterford here.
“Everyone I’m coming into contact with, supporters and club mentors, are saying this championship is a disaster for the GAA.
“Waterford are probably suffering more than most because of the injuries and lack of home advantage.”
Ryan continued: “I was chastised by former top men in the Association for making my views so known last year and told my comments were over the top when I said it would be the worst decision the GAA ever made.
Ryan also agreed with Irish Examiner columnist Tony Browne who described the atmosphere in Ennis on Sunday as ‘muted’. The former Déise hurler also questioned if the championship is suffering by having so many games on at the one time.
“Tony is right, the atmosphere at games is being affected. We’ve all these games now, three last Sunday and three the Sunday before, and then come July and August, we will hardly have any. Also, that a county is being relegated from Leinster, unless Kerry win the Joe McDonagh Cup, is wrong. We should be bringing up counties, not relegating them.
“Managers and players have been lauding the new system. I am just talking as a legislator and a volunteer, and my own opinion is that it is unworkable.”
Ryan concluded: “I appreciate it is a lot asking supporters to travel four weeks in-a-row, but Sunday is a big game for us and I am appealing to Waterford supporters to make the trip to the Gaelic Grounds.”
This article first appeared in The Irish Examiner