Dual dilemma continues to prove a thorny topic

Alan Cadogan

There are 20 dual players in Mick Evans’ Douglas senior football panel.

The Cork city club begin their county championship campaign with a first-round tie against Bishopstown tomorrow evening, another prominent dual club.

This past week, Douglas manager Evans has had exclusive access to his entire panel for the first time in 2018.

For the past 18 days, he has had exclusive access to every member of his panel who is not part of the Cork hurling or football set-ups.

Once the final whistle sounds on tomorrow’s first-round tie, the focus of the Douglas dual men will turn to the club’s Cork SHC opener on April 27.

Evans will not see his men during this period, it being the turn of hurling boss Willie Coveney to have uninterrupted preparation.

For a dual club, like Douglas, to land either a Cork senior hurling or football championship title, Evans believes three things must happen.

Number one: You need to be lucky with injuries (the Douglas footballers have been anything but as up to five first-team regulars are set to miss tomorrow’s game).

Number two: You have to beat the opposition. Rather self-explanatory that.

And number three: You need to beat the system.

“The system is the problem,” Evans begins. “April is designated as a club-only month. You’d want to be delusional to think that means the county players go back to their clubs for all of April.

There is a need for serious discussion regarding the club set-up. There is an awful lot of talk going on but there is nothing happening. This thing about April being the club month; there might be matches in April but it doesn’t mean clubs get any more access to players than they were already getting.

"There is no change there. That is what I mean by trying to beat the system. If we’re going to designate April for the clubs, what exactly does that mean? Different people have different understandings of what it entails.”

There are three Douglas men — Seán Powter, Kevin Flahive, and Sean Wilson — with the Cork footballers and three — Shane Kingston, Alan and Eoin Cadogan — part of John Meyler’s hurling panel.

They were released back to their club last weekend. Had this Douglas-Bishopstown fixture been played next weekend, the Douglas football management would have got a fortnight with their full panel. Instead, they got six days.

The club requested tomorrow’s game be put back a week. Bishopstown, however, couldn’t facilitate the change.

“I initially thought it was a joke when I heard our game was this weekend. I was shocked, disappointed. The county board should make a decision in the best interests of the game.

It isn’t fair that clubs get six days with their county players. This game should have been played on April 14. That would give us some leeway. We got none. We haven’t had a huge amount of time together so that puts us at a disadvantage. You only spend half the time with the group preparing by comparison with a one-code club.

“A football-only club will train twice a week and play a game at the weekend. It doesn’t work like that for us.

“Clubs who really try and promote both codes at the highest level should be given every facility by the county board to play games. The fixture list, at times, is a huge problem for a club like ours.

"We just have to get on with it. We’ve been given 18 days together. When we are finished, the hurlers will get 18 days together. It is not ideal, but it is the best system we can come up with in the club.”

Looking after Bishopstown is Jerome O’Mahony. The dual factor is also an issue for them. “A good spine of the team has gone, but a number of players who were exclusively hurling last year have come back,” he says.

“We’ve 12-13 guys who are dual players. Workload has been a big issue for us. Managing injuries is an important element. Players will return after treatment but need game-time to come up to speed.

"If we can bring more of the 18 to 20-year-olds into the set-up over the next couple of years and get half-a-dozen who are football only from that group, that will help take the pressure off.”


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