In the modern game, the added pressures on young players plying their trade at the elite level are increasing. For top footballers, they are consistently playing twice a week in these early stages of the year, with Sigerson Cup during the week and the Allianz National Football League at the weekend.
One case that came to light was that of Dublin forward Brian Howard, who forwent a Sigerson match with DIT, as he continues his League campaign with Jim Gavin’s side.
When asked about the issue following the win over Donegal last night, Gavin made it clear that he would never pressure his players into such decisions.
“I’ve always said to the players that their life is defined by the choices they make, be that professionally, academically, or sporting. I have a dressing room of grown men, and they simply make their decisions based on what is best for their professional, academic or sporting careers.”
Of course, the debate will rage on, and Gavin has made his stance on the issue perfectly clear to allow the third level competitions to flourish.
“It’s simply a matter of pushing back the National Football League games and the hurling. It’s a simple solution. But I don’t think anyone is listening.
“[The Sigerson Cup] is an important competition. It’s a great social experience for players. [It’s an opportunity] to mix with players from different counties, to be on the road with each other. They’re only young once and need to be given the space to enjoy it.”
As the training and lifestyles of top players become more and more demanding, it is unclear how sustainable the current balance between intercounty and third level competitions will be.