GAA dual stars look to be dwindling in numbers as the game steadily advances in commitment level, here Ashling Dalton looks at three of the main reasons dual stars are opting for one code over the other.
Last week saw the announcement that Cork’s Aidan Walsh has opted to only play for Jimmy Barry Murphy’s hurlers next year, now he wasn’t the only player to be faced with this hard decision. Who could forget the drama surrounding Podge Collins opting to play for the Clare footballers in 2015, despite the fact he won an All-Ireland with the hurler a year before.
Collins claims he was happy to still play dual roles if he hadn’t been given an ultimatum. A lot of players from counties who facilitate competitive hurling and football teams have had to juggle with the hectic schedule of lining out for both codes, but it seems like this tradition is coming to an end. Perhaps lining out for one’s hurling and football teams at club level still serves a purpose, but at county level, the show is over.
1. Modern day Intensity
The fact of the matter is, the level that hurling and football is played at now requires full time commitment. A hurler might be training 6-7 hours per week, a footballer near enough the same. An impossible task for the dual player who quite often finds himself behind in one code when he returns from concentrating on the other.
Case in point, inter-county training has ventured into the professional set-up with top quality drills, elaborate warming up and cooling down methods and meticulous preparation for the opposition.
A dual player might find himself joining up with a squad a week or so before a match, and might not be well versed on whatever training they have been doing, which might lead him to be slightly off the pace. Adding to that, having to switch to the mindset from a hurler to a footballer and back again, is becoming increasingly difficult for dual stars.
2. Pressure from managers
It’s hard to find a player that exceeds expectations in both codes and when one comes along they will be the rope in the hurling/football tug-of-war. Podge Collins is an example.
It’s no secret that the reason Cratloe achieved the double this year is in no small part due to his contributions. However, when you are as talented as he is, people from both sides of the GAA fence will expect more of you. It came down to the not-so-small matter of family for Podge.
His father is the Clare football manager so naturally it would have been hard for Podge to turn his back on football. The reality of the situation, a dual player who feels he has lot to offer in both codes is being put under massive pressure to pick just one, with lots like Podge facing the ultimate ultimatum, Hurling or Football?
The stress attached to this is not worth it so perhaps the fact that more and more dual players are opting for one code will relieve this problem.
Sometimes when you live in a county which has higher success rate in one sport over another, it can influence a player’s choice. For example, Aidan Walsh’s decision to stick with the hurlers could be that he feels Cork have a better chance of winning An All-Ireland in hurling rather than football.
Yes, Cork suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Tipperary, but they saw off Waterford, Clare and Limerick with impressive performances, and were only a puck of the ball of actually making the dream of an All-Ireland a reality.
The Cork footballers, on the other hand were dismal in the Munster final against Kerry and had an even more dismal end to the championship. Success almost always breeds confidence, and dual players will have to ask themselves, which sport does ensures future success?
Ashling Dalton, Punit Arena
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