Former Meath footballer Joe Sheridan has painted a bleak picture of inter-county football, claiming some players are “nearly detesting” it.
Sheridan, who recently stepped away from the county panel having resurrected his career as a goalkeeper, senses growing disenchantment among ex-colleagues regarding the number of championship matches and what is being demanded of them.
“I am, because of the commitment, and lads are nearly detesting county football. It might be a strong word but it is,” he told LMFM.
“You’re playing and training the whole time and you’re taking a lot of time out of your own life and it’s coming to a point when you’re really saying, ‘Do I really wanna do it?’
“Obviously, when you’re with the likes of Kerry and Dublin and the top teams who are going to compete and be successful and win a couple of All-Irelands (it’s different).
“Even if you compete at provincial level you’re gonna stay because you have a chance of winning. It’s hard for the likes of the lower teams who play every single year and get beaten in the championship.
“You look at the likes of Carlow, they had a good run in it and that for them was success and that’s great to see but that only happens once every five or six years.
“You have these teams with 30 to 35 lads who are nearly doing the exact same training as the top teams and getting very little out of it. Then you’re training without many games.
“You’ve eight games in the league, maybe two championship games and you’re training six or seven months of the year minimum.”
The hope is the condensed inter-county season this year will reduce the unbalanced ratio of training to games, which Sheridan defines as “scandalous”.
It’s those counties chasing the leaders who are suffering as they try to catch up, according to the Seneschalstown man.
“The likes of Kerry and Dublin are probably not doing as much training as the middle-of-the-road teams. It’s the middle-of-the-road teams that think they have to do more to catch up with the Dublins and Kerrys.
“I spoke to a good few of the Dublin lads and the Kerry lads and they’re not doing as much as people think they are doing. They’re doing it quite sensibly, and they’re all doing what they need to do, and they’re in great shape all year around.
“A lot of the time, it’s myths that they are training two or three times a day and the Dublin lads don’t work. They work but they’ve got themselves into a position where they are successful.
“Companies want them to work for them. Just because they might be a sort of figurehead for them or out in front, why not make the most of it?
“Back when Meath were winning All-Irelands, every single player for Meath had a job repping or something.
“It made training and playing easier for the lads and you’ve got to make the most of them. Some of the lads have made massive careers out of that and are still involved in the same jobs as they would have got playing with Meath.”
Although he is against a tiered championship “to a certain point”, Sheridan wants counties to be guaranteed more than two SFC outings.
“I don’t know what is going to happen with the inter-county scene.
“I know they’re trying to condense the season but the championship is where it’s at and you have more games there. At least players are going to play more games.”
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