Galway star Conor Whelan believes it would be unfair to give players just two weeks notice ahead of the start of championship action.
The GAA season and all training activities are currently suspended following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) with the future of the 2020 championship season uncertain.
The organisation have already postponed two Connacht SFC quarter-finals between Galway and New York and London and Roscommon but remain hopeful of completing both the hurling and football championships by their respective final dates in August.
Players are as much in the dark as the general public according to Whelan with no confirmation that they will even return to inter-county action this year.
“It’s very difficult to tell in the current moment… Players haven’t been given any insight into when we’ll be back. It’s just a matter of hopefully when we’ll be back. We haven’t even necessarily been told that we will definitely be playing. It’s very hard to know to be honest.
“You would hope that when all this is over that the GAA can play a big role in trying to lift the spirits of the country, and try to bring a bit of a buzz back.”
The blanket ban on GAA activity is currently set to be lifted on April 19 but looks likely to be extended into May. If the inter-county season is to be wrapped up in August, as the GAA, wishes, teams will need to return to group training next month. However, Whelan, an English and History teacher in Ballygar, maintains that it is not feasible to give players just two weeks to prepare for championship.
“Players have to be given a chance to collectively train and try and get up to a certain level. That’s definitely going to take a couple of weeks. I don’t think it would be fair if in the morning they turn around and say ‘look we’re going back in two weeks’.
“I don’t think two weeks is adequate time. You are not going to get any level of training done the week of a game, because obviously you need to bring back down the intensity and the load that week.
“So really you are talking one week of collective training. What can you do in a week? Three sessions. And then you are going out playing in a knockout game, hypothetically speaking, or if you are playing a round-robin game if you lose your first game you are under serious pressure.
“So I don’t think two weeks is adequate, I think four weeks in the current circumstances would probably be ideal at the moment. It’s not even about collective training, I think it’s just about getting the group back together, getting everyone on the same wavelength and everybody pulling in the same direction.”
It’s looking more and more likely that the championship season will revert to a straight knockout format in order to complete games in time.
Whelan insists that players are very understanding about the current situation and will welcome whatever championship structure the GAA decide upon.
“I’d probably welcome any sort of championship at the moment and I think every team is nearly in the same position – we all just want to play games. Look, we are very understanding at the moment that this is a crisis that is a lot more important than sport”, he stated.
“But when sport does come back at some stage, which we hope it does in the near future, I think the overall consensus will be that we’re probably not going to have much say in the matter, we’re just going to be going out and playing games – whether that’s a straight knockout format, the old round-robin format or whether it’s the older provincial format.
“It’s probably taken a bit for granted when you’re playing but definitely being away from it the last few weeks you definitely do miss it, you definitely miss the buzz of heading out training with the boys and developing throughout the season. If anything it has given us more of a hunger to want to come back and want to play.”
Galway hurler Conor Whelan, pictured at the Patrick Bourke Menswear ‘Kings Of The Game’ campaign launch.
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