Kieran McGeeney believes the public put too much pressure on young players to make an instant impact at senior inter-county level.
In recent years there have been numerous examples of players opting out of county football and hurling squads, frustrated by a lack of game time.
The Armagh manager has detected a growing impatience among young players, and says they must learn to bide their time. “It’s a different lifestyle now. Everything is recorded, everything is instantaneous and people want instantaneous results.
“If you are not playing for six months, people are telling you ‘that boy is being used as cannon fodder — what are you doing out there, wasting your time?’”
McGeeney contrasted the restlessness among the game’s young elite to his former All-Ireland winning team-mates, including All Star forward Steven McDonnell who was a fringe player in 2002 and didn’t make the breakthrough until the following season when he finished up Player of the Year.
“It wasn’t uncommon for the likes of Steven to come in and sit on the bench for two years before he started.
“Steven would remind us that he played corner back in his first year of training.
“It was the same with Diarmuid (Marsden) or Paul (McGrane) or myself.
“You have your ups and downs in the first couple of years. That’s not accepted anymore by the public.
“But you can’t train with 15 players. It’s impossible to train with 30, with the demands that are on different teams at this time of year.
“That’s the hardest part — the commitment and passion to succeed at a level that you have to convince yourself can mean something, but at the same time understanding that it doesn’t mean everything.” Armagh begin their Allianz League campaign against Meath in Navan on Sunday. It’s a tough start to Division Two but McGeeney is looking forward to the step up, admitting Division Three was not a competitive enough environment last year, and it cost them come championship with early losses to Donegal and Galway.
“They are going to be great games for this team and give us a great sense of where we are before the championship.
“I think we were a good bit off that last year. These are the type of games we need. Every game is winnable.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved