Sigerson Cup winning manager Billy Morgan and Higher Education committee chairman Gerry Tully have expressed strong opposition to calls for a blanket ban on inter-county players lining out at third level.
Morgan described as “ridiculous” a proposal by Roscommon footballer Cathal Cregg for inter-county players to be deemed ineligible for college competitions so to lessen the risk of burnout.
Tully warned such a move would see the funding of third level GAA clubs decimated.
“In order for us to promote Gaelic Games in the colleges and to get respect from college authorities, we need our high profile players playing in these competitions,” reasoned the Higher Education committee chairman
“I have never worked in a college, but I know from being involved with college teams the third level GAA clubs would find it very hard to get funding from their respective college if they didn’t have their higher profile players togging out. Moreover, the profile of our competitions would significantly diminish if we didn’t have the inter-county players.”
Tully said inter-county players studying at third level are unfairly being forced to travel long distances for county training midweek, a problem Cregg’s recommendation does not address.
“It is a matter of good communication between respective management teams to ensure players are not at risk of burnout. I don’t believe players should have to travel all over the country for midweek training and I know there are plenty of lads studying in Dublin who fall into this bracket. Nowadays all the colleges have excellent facilities and expert coaches. There is no need for these lads to be racing all over the country on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night. Another problem stemming from that is the fact players are arriving back to their college base well into the early hours of the morning having come from county training and are expected to be in lectures for 9am that morning. Even if you remove the inter-county player from the Sigerson equation, you are still going to have this problem.
“This seems to be a football issue, a football problem. Hurling people are more appreciative of the facilities and coaching at third level than those moving in the football circles.”
Although stressing UCC’s player-centred approach, former Cork boss Morgan believes the training schedule of inter-county players still in education could be better monitored.
“It is ridiculous to propose senior or U21 inter-county players not be allowed play at third level and some of these do-gooders make statements without being in possession of all the facts,” he said.
“Sigerson, first and foremost, is a breeding ground for inter-county players. Kerry are a prime example having had eight ex-UCC players involved last year. Now having said that, we are very conscious of not over-training players or demanding too much of them. The last couple of years I have been in contact with relevant inter-county managers — Brian Cuthbert, Sean Hayes and John Cleary in Cork, Kerry senior manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice and U21 boss Darragh Ó Sé. We have monitored matters very closely so lads aren’t out training seven days a week or at risk of burnout. That has been shown in their performances. I think it could be better managed throughout the country. Down here, though, we are very conscious of not over using players.
“We played Limerick in the McGrath Cup quarter-final last weekend, a prime example of how we put players first. We were short a number of players and yet we didn’t play Conor Cox or Jack McGuire who played the day before with Listowel.”
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