Young inter-county players making themselves unavailable for club games was an “inevitable” development, according to Cork minor hurling manager John Considine.
During last month’s Cork county board meeting, chairperson Tracey Kennedy told delegates that young Cork players have, on occasion, taken the decision not to present themselves for club action, a practice which she described as “very, very worrying”.
Her comments followed a debate which centred on two Cork players, who did not tog for a minor league fixture for reasons unknown, watching on from the sideline while their club had to make do with only 13 players for the game.
Such are the “phenomenal demands” placed on emerging talents, Considine was not surprised to hear of players taking steps so as to lessen their schedule and ensure they are not at risk of burnout.
“In some ways, I would think this is sort of inevitable,” said Considine, whose Cork minors begin their Munster championship campaign tomorrow.
“We train twice a week and have a game most weekends. Most of our lads are so good that they were lining out for schools who would have been involved in the later stages of the post-primary competitions. In addition to that, they are playing club U21.
“Because of all this, I’d say they are sitting down with their parents and saying, ‘I can’t do all of this’.
“The demands on all these guys are phenomenal and they are only one-code players, they’re not even playing dual at club level. They’ve already given up the football. For a fella that plays inter-county, his parents are on the road with him seven days a week between his commitments.”
Equally topical of late has been the spotlight placed on the development squad system by GAA president John Horan and whether the model adopted in certain counties is fit for purpose.
Considine is of the Brian Cuthbert school of thought with the former Cork football manager insisting that GAA talent academies should be far less concerned with “instant gratification” and much greater focus placed on “long-term player development”.
Feeding into this is Considine’s preference to see the abolition of county teams at U14 level.
“I would be very much in favour of what Cork are proposing at the moment which is to get away from having one county team at U14, but many regional teams. In other words, keep the base broader in earlier years. By doing it that way, you get the benefit of the size of Cork.
“Fellas develop at different times and you don’t want fellas thinking at 14, ‘I didn’t make it at 14 so I’ll never make it’. Officials in Cork are pushing this change to have a regional competition at U14, there is already one at U15.
“And then, after that, you can begin to narrow the base and narrow the groupings. I think that will work.
“I was involved in a presentation at the GAA’s annual coaching conference in 2015. One of the statistics we put up was that the Tony Forristal U14 tournament started in the early eighties and from then until 2014, no Tony Forristal winner went on to win the All-Ireland minor four years later.
“Why is that happening? There are probably issues in the sense that winning a Tony Forristal puts pressure on kids. The broader approach, the regional based system, will be of huge benefit to Cork.”
Meanwhile Kerry will be seeking swift revenge against Waterford when the sides clash at Cusack Park in Ennis in the first round of the TG4 Munster Ladies senior football championship this evening (5pm). Last Sunday at Parnell Park in Dublin, Waterford beat Kerry to claim the Lidl NFL Division 2 crown, and promotion to the top flight.
Six days later, the counties will renew acquaintances in the first round of the provincial championship, with two from Kerry, Waterford and holders Cork to contest the final following a round-robin series of games.
Kerry have made two changes for the tie: Kayleigh Cronin replaces Robyn White in goal with Sophie Lynch coming in for Sarah Murphy in defence while Aisling Mullaney earns a start in place of Megan Dunford in the Waterford line up.