Niall Morgan: Players may be less dedicated to GAA after coronavirus

Tyrone's Niall Morgan has claimed that county players who enjoyed more family time throughout the lockdown may wish to devote less time to sport when activity resumes.
Niall Morgan: Players may be less dedicated to GAA after coronavirus
Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan says running the Championship right up until Christmas would be 'crazy'.

Tyrone's Niall Morgan has claimed that county players who enjoyed more family time throughout the lockdown may wish to devote less time to sport when activity resumes.

The goalkeeper revealed that the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown has given him a new perspective on the required balance between work, home and sport.

The 2018 All-Ireland finalist, whose son was born in January, said he felt before the lockdown that despite working each day and training most evenings, he was seeing enough of his young family.

He told Tomas Moore's Inside the White Line podcast that he "quickly realised...how much I had been missing out on" at home when forced to set football aside for a prolonged period.

The two-time Ulster title winner isn't sure now if he'll be willing to devote as much time when activity resumes and revealed he has talked to several other players who feel the same way.

"Tyrone, to be fair, they don't expect too much of you but come Championship time you'll have your video work on Saturdays and stuff as well which can be a bit time consuming," said Morgan.

"That's one of the things that I don't know whether people are going to be willing to go back to the likes of that, when this is all over will they pursue that or will it be: 'We'll do it for half an hour after training on the Thursday night or before training on the Thursday night or something'.

"Now that we've had so much time at home, it's going to be hard to give up five or six days a week again. I don't know whether I personally will be willing to do it and there's a right few in the same boat that I've been talking to."

Inter-county teams will be permitted to resume training on September 14 with competitive action scheduled from October 17.

Morgan said he read a media report that the GAA could return initially with the outstanding Allianz League games and then run the Championship right up to Christmas, a plan he believes would be "crazy".

"That would be crazy stuff, not only in terms of for the players but how many pitches are going to be able to hold it?" he said. "You're going to end up playing every game in Croke Park to get enough light and a surface that's good enough to play on.

"Then are we going to play the pre-season competitions, are we going to be straight into the McKenna Cup which starts the week before the new year now? It would be crazy to expect players to start training in October and only have a week off maybe at Christmas and go straight into another season.

"I think it would, to reiterate my point from earlier, there's a lot of players that aren't going to be willing to put in the same level of commitment and it would only put players off."

Morgan believes the long-term answer is to trim back the inter-county season by making the Championship an all-island straight knockout competition.

"Personally, I've always said I'd prefer a 32-team straight knock-out competition and get rid of the backdoor and make games more appealing to people because they really matter," he said.

"I would still like to play my provincial, play my Ulster championship but I would just move it to before the league, almost where the McKenna Cup is. Play your provincials, play your league and all the teams then into a hat for a 32-team knockout. It would also leave a lot more time for your club. It would get rid of a lot of weeks off your county calendar, you could probably wrap up your county calendar by July and it would leave you with four or five months free to play all the club football.

"I think at the minute the GAA is forgetting about a lot of club players. Realistically without them you don't have a GAA, you don't have what we have and what we're proud of."

* Inside The White Line is a podcast hosted by Tomas Moore featuring GAA/sports personalities around Ireland. It's available on iTunes, Soundcloud and Spotify

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