Kildare hurling manager David Herity has called on the GAA to review the Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard Cup formats and extend both by at least a week.
A new look to the competition was unveiled last Friday at Croke Park and with the GAA under severe time constraints and trying to balance club, county and underage commitments, the 2020 Ring Cup was presented in straight knockout fashion.
The draw saw Herity pitted against his old Kilkenny team-mate Mick Fennelly, who is in charge of Offaly.
The near neighbours face each other in the quarter-final over the weekend of 24-25 October.
"It's just not good enough," said Herity.
"This is not about us getting a hard draw and having a moan. Our group submitted an alternative fixtures plan, so we offered an alternative, but it didn’t see any light.
"This is about the bigger picture. We started training on 3 November last year. We have 35 on the panel and we are trying to bring on younger players too.
"There is massive work going on at underage level in parts of Kildare and we are trying to tap into that and make the county approach more attractive.
"We are looking at the likes of last year’s county minor team that lost the Leinster semi-final to Kilkenny and we are also drawing from the Naas team that is coming through at senior level and clubs like Ardclough, who have fine talent emerging.
"I fully understand the pressure the GAA is under with the pandemic and all the boxes that they have to tick, but to have our championship season done and dusted in one game and the whole competition effectively ran off in three weeks is hard to take.
"The Liam MacCarthy Cup teams get at least two games, the Joe McDonagh teams get at least four and we should get more than one anyway – and I don’t count relegation games."
The GAA has already handed clubs an 11-week period to get their competitions, a window that has been welcomed by all.
Officials have had to also curtail premier championships like the All-Ireland SFC because of the huge number of competing teams and time pressures.
While trying to make room for all club, inter-county and underage fixtures, something has had to give; hence the rushed nature of competitions like the Christy Ring Cup, where group games are usually on offer.
"Are we really serious about developing the game at all? As things stand, it's a kick in the teeth for lads who have been training all year"
But Herity is calling for a review and believes there is still time to readjust the format.
He wants another week added to the calendar and a second game fitted in.
"If you win two, then straight into the semi-finals you go," he said.
"If you win one and lose one, it’s the quarter-finals.
"If you lose two, it’s into relegation territory. It will all still be played with the minimum fuss anyway.
"I understand the inter-county senior football teams have to make do with just one game also, but there are 32 of them. There are only eight in our section.
"And if there are group games for the Joe McDonagh, there should be for the Ring Cup too.
"I’m telling you, most of the teams at our level are footballing counties. For any young hurler coming up through the ranks, he will look at how this is being rushed through and any hope we have of attracting him to play hurling will fade."
The Kildare hurlers have gone through a massive period of change in the past two seasons.
When Herity took charge of the Lilywhites in 2019, he found that 16 players had left the set-up to go travelling and a variety of other reasons.
"There were some who were happy with what they had achieved – fellas who had won the Ring Cup twice.
"And there were others who left because they were frustrated, though they had won the Ring Cup twice there was no automatic promotion either time.
"That’s wrong too.
"I would call on the GAA to have a rethink. I’m not having a go at them; they have had a tough job to fit everything in.
"But is it possible to add in another week and give the lads that play at this level a lift, maybe a feeling that they are not an afterthought? Give the competition a bit more profile. A few more column inches.
"Are we really serious about developing the game at all? As things stand, it’s a kick in the teeth for lads who have been training all year.
"Our fellas just can’t believe it. I feel like I have to say something. I can’t just let this pass."