Former Cavan captain Killian Clarke has claimed the majority of footballers outside the leading teams are not enjoying the inter-county experience.
Clarke, 26, is one of about 70 players who were on inter-county panels in 2019 that have opted not to make themselves available this season.
Along with Dara McVeety and Conor Moynagh who are both travelling and Michael Argue, Jack Brady and Conor Rehill, Clarke is one of six Cavan players manager Mickey Graham won’t be able to call on in 2020.
Despite a Division 1 campaign last year and reaching the Ulster final, Clarke reached a point where he was not enjoying his football and he suggests there are several others who are in the same position — but are not able to admit it.
“I definitely get that feeling from a lot of lads and even those who are a wee bit reluctant to speak about it.
“They’re probably a wee bit afraid of management picking up on what they’re saying and they’re afraid they mightn’t get called back in or they might fall out with the management over it. They’re afraid to be honest.
“They are probably a few exceptions to the rule, your Dublins, Mayos and Kerrys, these boys are on a different level to the other counties in what exposure you get and how you’re treated, but it’s obvious enough for me to see.
“A lot of the lads, if you rang them or spoke to them publicly there would be a denial but if you were to speak to them personally I don’t know how many of them actually enjoy training for that nine months or that period and missing out on holidays with their families, girlfriends or whoever.
“I don’t know how honest they are saying they’re enjoying it that much when they’re missing out on a J1 with the lads and I think there are always those question marks with a lot of players.”
Speaking to the Irish Independent earlier this week, another county captain who has stepped away this season, Sligo’s Niall Murphy, explained his frustrations with the fixtures calendar.
“If you had that definite two-month break you might not see as many drop-outs.”
Louth’s Jim McEneaney, who has also chosen to sit out this year, recently spoke of the “vicious cycle” between the county and club seasons. “When I’ve been playing club and county, apart from this year (2019), there hasn’t really been an off-season. You’re going from a relegation match or finishing a league straight back into training in Darver (with Louth).”