Maurice Alyward has brought St. Mullins to another county final on his first time trying after a tremendously hard-fought battle against Ballinkillen last Sunday.
Alyward previously managed Ballyhalle to All Ireland glory in 2007 when Loughrea was seen off in the final. In doing so he ended a 17-year wait for national success for the side and his time in charge is fondly remembered. We caught up with Maurice to discuss all things Carlow after he took over the role from Niall O’Donnell and see how he is finding settling into the role, speaking to Socreline he said;
“I am enjoying it, it is different from Kilkenny. There are not as many clubs, so you are meeting one another more times than you would in Kilkenny. “
“The championship has been played off one week after another, with the exception of one break, it is just go go go. If you get any disruption at all with injuries or like in our case we had a wedding. It is not easy. You have no time to prepare”
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It has been a very busy time in the Carlow hurling calendar with the junior, intermediate, and senior championships all going ahead in the one weekend with St. Mullins competing on all fronts. Winning the Junior championship, losing by a point in the intermediate semi-final, and winning by a point in the senior final. Alyward believes this kind of schedule is very hard going on players.
“We played a junior final last night (Friday). We had the intermediate semi-final and senior semi-final. There are also under-20 matches in between as well, the whole thing is crowded.”
“It was not easy to prepare, I have to say from a player welfare point of view it is just not on. There were some players involved with three teams.”
“It is very heavy going on players, with that kind of carry-on, that is just my opinion.”
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The player welfare aspect seems to be at the heart of Alyward’s issues when it comes to the structure of the league, which predominate focus on two points in particular;
“I think the county board has to come up with some solutions. Two things playing three games in one week in three different competitions is number one.”
“The number two I would like to see the Carlow county board do. Before the end of the year, a decision should be made on the format for the championship next year.”
“For example, we had a wedding (for a league match with Ballinkillen) but those players thought the championship was going to be played at a different time. I think the onus is on the county board to decide the format between hurling and football and when it will be played. So the players can prepare and work out their plans for the year. I think that is only right, and the players deserve that.”
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Carlow love their football no doubt, but hurling support is just as passionate. One campaign going ahead of the other is the best of both worlds, with dual players lining out for their teams in both disciplines. However which one comes first? Alyward believes this should be decided before Christmas;
“We should know in the month of November what the format for next year is going to be. I think that is only right.”
“When I went in first I didn’t know when the championship was going to be played. I could be wrong but I think it was in the middle of May before the county board decided. Whether it was football first or hurling first or vice versa. That is totally wrong.”
Listen back to the interview below :
Tune into the county final matchup between St. Mullins and Bagnelstown Gaels this Sunday on Scoreline from 4pm.