Brennan warns colleges on pre-season competitions

NICKEY BRENNAN has called on third-level colleges to reconsider their involvement in pre-season competitions such as the McGrath, McKenna and O’Byrne Cups.

Third-level institutions have featured in these campaigns in recent seasons, and will do so again in 2008, but Brennan believes this should be discontinued.

“In relation to the whole burnout debate there was some people who would have said that the third level had somehow got off lightly in the recent report. There was a suggestion that there should be more questioning of games that are played (at third level).

“I would make one suggestion,” Brennan said at the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup draws in Croke Park yesterday. “You need to look again at the involvement of third-level colleges in the early knockout competitions like the O’Byrne Cup.

“Obviously, the fixtures are made for this year so it would not be fair to expect anything for now but that is something that should be considered.”

With some third-level institutions also involved in various county championships, there are more games than ever for players continuing their education. Over 400 hurling and football third-level ties have already been completed this season.

Laois secretary Niall Handy was one official to mention the proliferation of such fixtures in relation to burnout in recent weeks but, up to now, the proposal to merge the minor and U-21 grades has garnered all the publicity.

“There has been far too much focus on the minor and U-21 grades,” said Brennan who restated that Croke Park was available for the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup finals should the organisers wish to avail of it.

“But anyone who was present at the coaching conference here in Croke Park a few weeks ago couldn’t but be concerned at the manner in which players are expected to perform for so many different teams and managers.”

The colleges’ own knockout competitions — including the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups — will begin next month.

Sigerson Cup holders Queens University Belfast will open the defence of their title with a round two tie against the winners of the round one game between NUIG and Athlone IT.

The biggest story is in the Fitzgibbon Cup however where holders LIT have been drawn in the proverbial ‘Group of Death’ along with UL and WIT. Two of the three from the four pools will progress to the quarter-finals.

Cork IT will host this year’s Fitzgibbon finals on the first weekend in March with IT Carlow playing the hosts for Sigerson one week later.

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