CORK hurling manager Kieran Kingston feels that inter-county teams and players would have been better served by the retention of seven substitutions for this year’s championship.
The decision was taken by the GAA to increase the number of allowed switches from five to seven for the Allianz Leagues as teams coped with the return to action, but normality has been restored now.
At Euro 2020, for instance, soccer teams can make five changes rather than the usual three – and an additional one in extra time, meaning Austria finished Saturday’s game against Italy with only five starters – and Kingston feels that amateur GAA players should be afforded extra leeway too, given the altered landscape that Covid has-19 has influenced.
“I was surprised, in a way, that the substitutions were reduced from seven to five,” he said.
“I know that guys are back a good number of weeks, but it’s still condensed. When you consider that we were back three weeks before the league starts and guys had been off, in our case, since the middle of November, there are still a lot of guys to be collected and built into the legs yet.
“Therefore, I’d be of the view that you’ll need your 20 players, or 22 if you have them, in each game. There’s no doubt, if you’re going from week to week – which, with God’s help, we all will be – there’s no question that you’ll have niggles when the championship starts, in this weather and at that pace.
“It was good for the management and good for the players [in the league], it’s nice as well that you can have 22 fellas involved in a game on a given day, albeit with two double substitions, but that’s fine.
“I was surprised to see it changing for the championship, I have to say, because I thought it worked well and, in particular, the year that’s in it. It’s not a normal year – last year, we know, wasn’t normal, this year certainly isn’t normal either and I thought it would stayed, yes.” Cork begin their Munster SHC campaign on Saturday against Limerick in Thurles (7pm) and Kingston has a near-full squad to choose from.
“From the panel perspective, we have a clean bill of health for everyone,” he said.
“As of now everyone is available for selection. A lot can happen in a week, but as of now they’re all available for selection and we have one or two who have come back recently into training.
“Bill Cooper is back training the last couple of weeks and Colm Spillane is back in modified training at the moment, so they’re getting back to match pace.
“It’s the first time this year we’ve had everyone available for selection, touch wood. But obviously some of those players are only back a couple of weeks, so they haven’t got a lot done at this stage.
“It’s unusual, because there’s been so much training and games in a short period of time and there has been so much going on that you’ll always pick up niggles. We had a very bad run of niggles when we came back to training, which was probably to be expected, I suppose, but as of now everybody is fit for training.”