EDERNEY and Fermanagh footballer, Declan McCusker, would be in favour of some sort of split season model coming into place for the football season.

McCusker has experienced the pitfalls of the current model, which sees the club and inter-county seasons overlap, and which has forced many club leagues to still be playing their football in the height of Winter.

It has also caused tensions between club and county managers at times, with both wanting to utilise players to their own advantage.

2020 has seen the implementation of a so far successful split season, with clubs having their league and championships wrapped up before the inter-county game took over.

And it was successful too for McCusker and his Ederney club, who lifted the New York Cup for the first time since 1968.

It could be argued that having the county contingent available and fully focussed on the club played a massive part in this success.

“I would always have loved the split season,” said McCusker.

“You are training with the county normally from November until June or July, or depending how good a year you have.

“In the middle of training with your county, you are playing your club league games, and you don’t train with the club at all.

“You turn up on a Sunday, play a game, and turn up the next Sunday and play a game, or the Friday night, maybe.

“During the National League it is grand because you are playing games for the county and training, and your full focus is on the county.

“Then you go through that period where you are training with the county and preparing for a championship, but you are playing club league games.

“So, at the weekends, you are focussing on the club.

“And then every year there is the argument about starred games – can you play this game, can you not play that game, somebody has a wee bit of a niggle, should they be playing for the club?”


For McCusker, playing in the Ulster Championship and All-Ireland series is the pinnacle and to have your focus diverted by league games up until two weeks before is frustrating, and he believes the focus should be on one team and not flitting back and forth between club and county.

Fermanagh are one of the few counties not to have tasted provincial success, with the county still searching for an Ulster Championship.

Under one of the new proposals, Fermanagh could see themselves playing in Connacht if they were one of the lowest-ranked sides in Ulster.

McCusker admits it is something that has never crossed his mind.

“You could win a Connacht championship before you’d win an Ulster one.

“I’ve always dreamt of winning an Ulster title. I’ve never dreamt about winning a Connacht title, so I don’t know how I feel about that.

“But I suppose it could be extra games against completely different opposition.”

In the second proposal, the National League and Provincial Championships would swap positions on the calendar, with the Provincial championships taking place in February and March.

Again, it is a situation that McCusker would be wary of.

“Realistically there are four or five teams that could win an All-Ireland. The other teams, their best hope is to win a Provincial title where you can cause one shock in your province and get lucky enough to win a Provincial title.

“You don’t want that happening before your league. The league should be used to prepare you for your Provincial championship, and then into the All-Ireland series.

“I think the league should be played first,” added McCusker.

Like many footballers, the Ederney Captain can see the benefits of a split season, but just what a split season will look like will make or break the proposals.

But McCusker added, jokingly: “It’s not coming in until 2022, so it might not affect me at all.”