With the Allianz Leagues all but completed, bar this weekend's hurling final, attention now turns to the newly designated 'club month.' The introduction of the 'Super 8s' included a master fixture plan which freed up the month of April so that clubs could have access to their players before the championship kicks off in May.
Several counties have already elected to ignore this designation, instead using April for training camps ahead of the championship. However, in Monaghan, they have introduced a progressive new league structure to provide assurance to both county and club players.
The restructured league features new ‘five-point’ games in Senior and Intermediate. Each team will play four times with their county players before the end of April, with those games carrying five points for a win and two for a draw. The other games will continue as normal as two points for a win and one for a draw.
It means there will be nine 'A' league games (with county players) and nine 'B' league games (without county players). Therefore, club players know when games will be played and mid-week games will be avoided, massively helping the host of Dublin based players.
By the end of the month, four league games will have taken place. Club players will be able to continue after the inter-county calendar resumes in the knowledge they have guaranteed games. The Championship will then take place in August. The new league proposal provides clubs with plenty of games before they play in the Monaghan club championships. It also avoids a backlog of fixtures at the end of the year on poor pitches.
This new approach was overwhelming welcomed by clubs within the county and is precisely what club players have been crying out for. Above all, it provides certainty to players previously unsure as to when fixtures would be fulfilled.