Gordon D’Arcy on November and beyond, how to solve a problem like the GAA calendar?

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Gordon D’Arcy: Johnny Sexton returned from his stint in Paris as a better player. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty

Gordon D’Arcy: Johnny Sexton returned from his stint in Paris as a better player. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty

In his column this morning Gordon D’Arcy has looked to the future - both short and long term - ahead of Ireland’s November series opener against Italy in Chicago on Saturday. He believes the autumn window can provide the attacking foundations for a serious assault on the Webb Ellis Cup next year: “Now is the time for Schmidt’s Ireland to investigate the resolve of Argentina and New Zealand but also of themselves, because the Six Nations remains an island where victory by any means necessary denies the same level of risk-taking. The concepts we see unfolding at the Aviva stadium on November 10th and 17th will get us past Japan, Scotland, South Africa and into a World Cup semi-final.” And he has also looked at the future of Joe Schmidt - who he see doesn’t taking another Northern Hemisphere job - beyond the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He writes: “How about Schmidt not resigning until 2023, but taking a leave of absence during the 2021 Six Nations and summer tour to coach the British and Irish Lions against Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks?”

How to solve a problem like the GAA fixture schedule? Last weekend saw Wicklow side St Patrick’s have to face Offaly champions Rhode in the Leinster championship less than 24 hours after winning the county title due to congestion in the calendar. And in his column this morning Seán Moran writes that addressing long term issues isn’t necessarily one of the GAA’s strengths: “The GAA is hardly a unique environment in its demands for instant results but it has a tendency to raise the temperature on such demands by taking so long to address persistent problems. Club fixtures have become an obvious example of this. It is decades since the issue began to make what would become frequent appearances in the annual reports of the director general but only comparatively recently has there been a concerted effort to address the problem.”

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