Former Galway hurling captain David Collins has hit out at the “crazy” demands on players.
Collins called it quits after the 2016 campaign, meaning he missed out on the Tribesmen’s All-Ireland breakthrough by a single season.
He’s still playing for his club, Liam Mellows, who will take on reigning champions Cuala in the AIB All-Ireland club semi-finals on Saturday.
Collins, who is the president of the Gaelic Players Association, said the bigger picture for the inter-county game is that unreasonable demands are being made on players’ time.
He pointed to the experiences of student players, in particular, who are consistently asked at this time of year to jump from third-level championship games to National League matches.
“It is crazy and, in my eyes, I don’t think there’s any need for it,” said Collins, who reckons he’d have played for longer himself if he’d observed a ‘less is more’ policy.
“I fully agree with that now, because of the way players’ approaches have changed. In recent times, they were dogging themselves between eating and drinking and messing and not looking after themselves properly.
“That isn’t there anymore. Players are fit throughout the whole year, so, if they were to be maintained a whole lot better in terms of, ‘we’ll play him this week, we’ll play the other guy the next week’ and so on, I think that’s the way forward.”
Collins admitted that a player will very rarely ask a manager to scale back his training, which is part of the problem.
“Here lies the problem, because when you’re asked to go, you’ll go and, when you’re asked to train, you’ll train, and that was one of my biggest problems, that I never said: ‘Right, I need to train smarter and to train less.’
“If I trained less, I would probably have lasted a whole lot longer and not got injured as much and not pulled hamstrings.
“I would agree that less is definitely more in this situation. It brings less pressure too. Players are under pressure from their peers, the county board, the managers, to play all the time, to train all the time, to train to the best of the ability they can, but it’s a long season, you’d be hoping to be going to September, or the end of August as it is now.”
All-Ireland winning Clare forward Darach Honan was forced to retire prematurely due to injury, brought on by over-training, and said he had to “fork out six grand” for an operation and consultations.
“They refused to give me any help at all,” said Honan, hitting out at the Clare county board.
“I don’t know the details of it,” said Collins. “My understanding is that he played for the club, and he played on injured. When I look back on my own situation, when I got injured myself in 2007/2008, the county board did step up to the mark and did help out, but I went back to the club and, from there on, it was my responsibility and the club helped out in that sense too.”
Dermot Earley recently stepped down as head of the Gaelic Players Association and has been replaced on an interim basis by Seamus Hickey. Collins said he isn’t interested in replacing Earley.
“Maybe down the road,” he said. “Right now, it’s a position you’d want to be based in Dublin for. Obviously, I’m playing with the club and have my own full-time career in Galway in software, so no, not yet, no,” said, Collins, adding it would be some time before Earley’s permanent replacement is sourced.
“I think that’s going out to a recruitment agency... and see who’s available,” he said. “I did say it’s going to have to be a former inter-county player, because they know the inside track.”
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