Speaking at the launch of next year’s third-level competitions, the Kilkenny legend admitted he was against the move to bring the All-Ireland finals back to August and warned that the GAA should reconsider next year’s scheduling, which will see the inter-county season played off in 25 weeks.
“I just don’t understand that we have the mindset that an All-Ireland final can be over in July and the rest of the year is given over to club action,” said Carey, manager of Carlow IT in the Fitzgibbon Cup.
“I like to think I’m a very good club man myself. I always have been. But we’re now rushing our main competition, we’re fitting everything into half a year.”
Next year’s All-Ireland hurling final is already fixed for July 17, with the football final taking place a week later.
“Unfortunately,” Carey went on, “club players are browbeaten into saying, ‘We love the club.’ Of course we love the club. And we always will and where we come from, that’s our backbone.
“I just think the All-Ireland series being over in July doesn’t make sense to me.”
Carey stressed that even as “a GAA fanatic”, the club scene in other counties was “not of huge interest to me”.
“What I mean is, I’m not tuning into it. But if Galway were playing Dublin or Cork were playing Wexford, that’s what I’m tuning into. Or I’m at those games.
“We’re putting much more focus on a club season that doesn’t have the profile that the inter-county does have. I don’t understand how we’re not able to combine the two.”
The five-time All-Ireland medallist pointed the finger at club managers for causing the move towards a split season after demanding more of their players’ time.
“I think what happened was a very powerful club group came together. And then sometimes we clash with each other. I understand where the clubs were coming from. There were huge frustrations there.
“But in a lot of cases, inter-county management over the years got too much of a stranglehold on their players. And then their players were taken away from their clubs for far too long.
“And I don’t think that should have happened. I’d love to see it go back to the traditional (time). I realise everything moves on in time. But I’m not sure exactly what was wrong with it.”
Carey also referenced the recent tragedy that touched Gowran, when 13-year-old club member Harry Byrne died in an accident in St Kieran’s College after being struck by sliotar.
As a child, Carey himself lost two siblings, one due to a farming accident and another infant brother who died by cot death.
“It’s a very sad one. Horrific,” Carey admitted.
“It’s my own club. I’ve been involved with all the underage teams. His grandfather was a great servant. He died the night before one of our own matches. He was the selector on our own team, James Byrne.
“The families are immersed. Nolans on the other side of the family, they’re immersed in Clara and the Byrnes in Gowran. So it was a very, very sad occasion.
“There’s very little words. Only life must go on. But I’m sure there’s going to be a very large void for a long time.
“I know my own parents lost two children at a very early age as well. I don’t know did they ever get over it. Life has to go on. I hope in time that they will be able to get on with it.”