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‘Maybe tweak it a little’ – Former Dublin dual star Conal Keaney believes a better solution needed with split season

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Based on his experience in Dublin with Ballyboden St Enda’s, Keaney believes the split season favours county players over their club counterparts, given the rapid-fire nature of the championship schedule.

The 41-year-old still thinks most counties are kicking off their club competitions no earlier than under the previous system and feels “it’s not a massive benefit to the club players”.

“The merits are purely for the inter-county players, the season is so short and the benefit is that you only really need to get yourself fit and ready to go for a very, very short period of time,” Keaney explained to the Irish Independent.

“Obviously, if there’s a suspension or an injury, you could miss a whole season, whereas previously, you didn’t. I see it now on the club side of things. It’s not a massive benefit to the club players, especially in Dublin.

“Teams are still waiting for their county players to come back, and yes, the club championships might start a little bit earlier, but it’s not a massive benefit to the players at the minute. I can’t see it anyway.

“Some county boards are still waiting for September to start their county championships. Yes, in Dublin, we now have a round-robin situation, but everyone knows who’s going to get through to that point anyway.

“You’re still hurling in the same time and the final is still around the same time as it was, so it hasn’t made a huge difference to the club players.”

While acknowledging it is better than the old system, where club action was left on the long finger until the county season concluded, Keaney reckons there is still room for improvement with a few extra weeks needed for the county calendar to run smoothly, in his view.

“There’s a calendar and lads probably have a fair idea when they can go away – June and early July is the time of the year when they can go away – but it still really depends on how the county teams go in hurling and football​,” Keaney said.

“Clubs won’t play championship games without those players back, even in the early rounds. I’m still not sure about it, but the other system didn’t work anyway.

“It was a never-ending season for both club and county. It was just going around in circles, and there was too much asked of players, but it [the split season] was definitely worth a try.

“Maybe tweak it a little bit and if you could extend the inter-county season out by a couple of weeks. It won’t make that much of a difference to the club players anyway.”

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