Denis Hurley previews this weekend's big senior football championship game between Carbery and Castlehaven.
SUNDAY'S SFC round 2A clash with Castlehaven (3pm) will represent a first championship outing in 98 days for the Carbery senior football team.
In as diplomatic language as possible, it's far from ideal, but consider this â the divisional side are the team with the shorter gap heading into the game in Dunmanway, and also have the benefit of playing two games compared to one for the Haven.
The Union Hall-Castletownshend side's only outing to date was the win over CIT on April 17th â 125 days will have passed by the time they take to the field on Sunday.Â
Brian Hurley is obviously an injury absentee for the 2012 and '13 county champions, while his brother Michael, John O'Regan and Stephen Collins are all rated as doubts too.
With players injured and others unavailable due to inter-county commitments, it's little wonder that manager Liam Collins has found it difficult to get much done over the summer.
âWe played a few league games,' he says, âand the form has been up and down, we've had a lot missing.
âYou're trying to organise things during the summer but lads don't know what to do. You mightn't have any games but you could be told you're playing at short notice. It's very hard for wives and girlfriends; you try to accommodate them as best you can.
âYou'd wonder if it might be better to give teams a month off, at least then they can plan things and might come back fresher. It's understandable that the inter-county scene takes precedence but surely something can be sorted out to make the whole thing more enjoyable.'
And perhaps the madness of the fixtures situation is best summer up by the fact that, even though we're past the middle of August, Sunday's game is not a knockout tie, with the losers facing Kiskeam in round 3.
âYou'd nearly say that both teams would benefit from it being knockout,' Collins says, âand you have to treat it as if it is. We know that it'll be a very close game, it always is against Carbery.
âWith a local derby like this, there's a lot at stake and I'm delighted that it's on a Sunday afternoon, it allows more people to attend and there's nothing better than a Sunday game in Dunmanway.'
Collins's opposite number Gene O'Driscoll questions the usefulness of playing any championship games before this time of year.
âIt's a point I've made before,' he says, âthe teams who are out already would love to be facing into a straight knockout competition now and you'd have to think it would be far more worthwhile.
âHave a proper league structure â maybe with more divisions even than there are now â with no postponements, get those games played and have it all finished by this stage, and you could have a great knockout competition. To me, it would make a lot more sense than the current set-up.'
O'Driscoll's task has the extra variable of trying to corral players from various clubs, and he estimates that only about two or three are finished with club action.
âBandon are playing Friday night, so we haven't had those lads,' he says.
âWe've only got together on a few occasions since the Ilen Rovers replay and a lot are still playing hurling. You take the positive view that at least they're involved and active as there's no point being negative about the situation.'
Carbery players Eddie Goggin, Don O'Driscoll and SeÃ¡n O'Leary are returned or returning from the US and may be available, while Graham Canty and Alan O'Connor are both rated as doubts.
Otherwise, the team is likely to be similar to that which enjoyed a comfortable replay win over Ilen Rovers after a tough 80 minutes in the drawn game.
âThe draw was ideal the first day,' O'Driscoll says, âas it gave us another chance to get together.
âThe system doesn't help us but you see from the games that guys still want to partake and play for Carbery. If you don't have the players you're at nothing but if you have them they have to be interested and we're very lucky that we have a very good group who want to play.
âThe fact that it's the Haven adds a bit of spice, they're the most successful Carbery club and they've been one of the best in the county with the last while.
âYou're trying not to think of the safety net of the game against Kiskeam, you have to treat it as knockout and we'll see where it takes us then.'