The Club Players Association (CPA) has urged the GAA to monitor inter-county managers this season, so that April is utilised for the club player.
Under the new master fixture plan, there are no matches fixed for the month of April. The Division 1 and 2 football finals are set to be played on April 1st, Easter Sunday, and the opening championship game is not until May 6 when Leitrim play New York and Sligo play London. As the majority of inter-county sides have a six-weekend gap it was thought this period would be ring-fenced for club fixtures.
However, The CPA fear county managers will deny clubs access to their players during this period as they look to prepare for the fixtures ahead. They want the GAA to "provide monitoring, guidance, and where appropriate sanction, to ensure this happens."
A number of articles were written over the weekend highlighting April as a flaw in the plan, with both Colm O'Rourke and Marc Ó Sé arguing this period will be utilised for training, camps abroad and preparation. O'Rourke labelled it "an April fools joke on club."
With the new look hurling championship set to burst into action in early May especially, it's hard to see county teams being given a month off to play with their club while preparation for huge Championship games goes array.
CPA chairman Micheál Briody has released a statement outlining his fears of this possibility:
He wants a GAA body to monitor this month and issue sanctions if a manager refuses to release his players.
We would like to see Central Competitions Control Committee or some central authority have the power to step in and enforce systems in place and/or hold any party to account that is being obstructive.
The GAA master fixture master plan was released last week. As well as clearing the month of April the plan ensures the inter-county seasons finishes earlier, freeing up time in September for club fixtures. Under the plan the All-Ireland hurling final will take place on August 19th, with the football final taking place on September 2nd.