This should have been the weekend of the All-Ireland hurling finals.

Much anticipation in the air as to what might transpire at Croke Park and what the narrative might be after the final whistles.

2020 gave the world a global pandemic. Much of our lives upended, with sport also having to deal with the fallout. The All-Ireland finals have been pushed back to December. The hope is that the games will be played to allow a finish in advance of the year's shortest day.

Yet, this is also a weekend in which the GAA president John Horan has called on the association's Fixtures Calendar Review Task Force to have a look at a split season.

In an interview in The Irish Independent, Horan said he would like to see all inter-county games concluded by early August at the latest, with the club season to follow thereafter. He also advocates the ending of April's club window. 


The fixtures review group are due to meet on Wednesday and Horan has asked them to have a look at the 'split-season' model. At the end of last year, the review group unveiled 32 recommendations to cover all levels of club and inter-county competitions. 

Overall, the aim was to strike a better balance and degree of certainty to the playing of club fixtures alongside the inter-county fixture programme.

Circumstances have now changed, brought about by the pandemic, and the extra space that is now being given to the club. 

John Horan has pressed the acceleration button to get the process of change moving. Now is the time to do something about the fixtures mess. It took a global pandemic to bring about the impending change. There would seem to be goodwill out there to make it work, with the GPA in recent weeks also loudly calling for change.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Saturday Sport, Oisín McConville is positively disposed towards a split season, saying that "at this stage it makes a lot of sense" and that the "April for club month wouldn't cut the mustard in any other sport".  

However, he differs from John Horan's vision when saying: "I would like to see clubs get the start of the year, with the inter-county to follow. We can build the season and hopefully have something that we'll have this year but maybe not as late in the year.

"The club scene has got a new lease of life since we resumed after lockdown. Inter-county players are recognising their club much more, are seeing a different side to things. Volunteers are more appreciated.

"College fixtures will have a better run of it players aren't in conflict with turning out for their counties"

"We also need to factor in some sort of downtime for the player going directly from a club to an inter-county season. Games are taking up much more time now."

The 2002 All-Ireland winner also pointed to a competition that could benefit with the county season starting later in the year.

"College fixtures will have a better run of it if players aren't in conflict with turning out for their counties. To put inter-county football first will no doubt continue to disrupt college games. It could be the final in the coffin for third level."  

It's seems like we've been talking about the GAA's fixtures dilemma forever. The first real moves towards a more streamlined calendar were first mooted I'm told back in 2005. 

The association made a momentous decision that year to 'open up' Croke Park. Time has now arrived to make another landmark decision.