Kerry captain Paul Murphy believes the Gaelic football fraternity have to stick up more for themselves like the hurling community.
As footballers get a first taste of the advantage rule and the sin bin/penalty kick this weekend, the Rathmore man feels they should learn more from how hurling managers, players and pundits put allegiances aside to protect shared interests.
“I think football could learn a bit from hurling in terms of the lobbying and the PR machine that hurling seems to have. If you even look at the uproar in relation to the advantage rule in hurling – and the black card that’s not a black card, it’s yellow card in hurling. So, I think the football side of the GAA seems to take rule changes and things like that lying down a bit more than the hurling side of things.”
Campaigning for an All-Ireland SFC qualifier system could have been a common cause but Murphy understands time constraints and the number of teams involved mean once more it must be a knock-out championship. That definitive Munster semi-final defeat to Cork last November has made the wait to return to action all the longer.
Asked if the break was a help, the 29-year-old shrugged. “Some guys probably will (benefit) and some guys won’t. You’d have a couple of guys there who, possibly, might be claiming the PUP (Pandemic Unemployment Scheme) and they’ve a lot of time on their hands.
"There’s probably guys across the country who’ve been, I won’t say professional, but close enough in the last 12 months or so. And you could see bolters who’ve really driven things on in the year.
“Other guys then might have been working full-time, they could have been working in healthcare or frontline or something like that, and for them it’s been a very pressurised year. So, look, it can go either way for guys but it’s certainly been different.”
Personally, it will be for Murphy who will be lining out for the first time without his former housemates Peter Crowley, Shane Enright and Brian Kelly who have all retired in recent months.
Murphy attempted to convince his close friend Crowley to stay around but he wasn’t for turning.
“Yeah, I would be close with Peter. Yeah, I did talk to Peter but you know Peter is his own man and he’s not the easiest guy to change his mind on anything.
"But I’d just like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to him. He’s been a great servant for Kerry, a fantastic footballer and he went straight from minors to U21s to seniors.
I always saw him as a standard bearer within the group. You could see him on the field but in the background he always pushed things on.
Murphy likes to think Kerry have done well in handling the shortened run-in to tomorrow’s opening Division 1 South game with Galway in Tralee.
“It’s been tough, it’s been intense. Jason McGahan and the lads in the strength and conditioning team have been trying to ramp up the intensity and the speed of things each week so that we’ll be ready for Galway on Saturday, but I suppose there’s a fine line there between having yourself ready and having done too much. I think we’ve managed it quite well.
“We’d a lot of the hard slog done individually in the months coming up to April in terms of the fitness work, so it’s been football-based, attacking-based and things like that.
“But it’s been a challenge because, other years, you’re getting ready for the league and you’re still maybe four or five months away from Championship whereas it’s going to come around very quick this year.
“We’re happy with the position we’re in and hopefully we’ll keep increasing, week on week.”