Modern GAA schedules are frequently the subject of debate in this day and age. The opening months of the year must accommodate pre-season tournaments, the Allianz National Leagues as well as third level competitions. That’s not to mention the All-Ireland club series.
Of course, clubs still in the hunt for honours on St Patrick’s Day generally have exclusive access to their county players ahead of the intercounty season. This can pose problems for intercounty managers, who are without some of their brightest talents as they attempt to ready their team for the championship.
Leinster champions Moorefield are in the All-Ireland semi-final, but this handicaps Kildare manager Cian O’Neill to a certain degree, who must do without his Moorefield contingent until the end of their club campaign. However, O’Neill feels that this can only be a good thing for the county team.
“I think it is great for the county, I think a rising tide does lift all boats, I really do believe in that. Whether that is a schools team which wins a Hogan Cup, whether it is a county minor or Under 21 or a club team.
“The great thing about Moorefield is that there has been some really good county champions in Kildare in recent years in my opinion. Clubs that could have gone on further in Leinster and for different reasons they didn’t. I think it was important for a Kildare club team to make a statement, that we can do this. We last did it in ’06 so I think Ross, Frank, and Kevin and all the players have to take a lot of credit for what they have done.
“We are just here to support the group, to support the lads and if we can help out in any way, I know the Kildare County Board have been very supportive. That doesn’t impact on what we do, we are just here to support them and hopefully to see them proceed on to an All Ireland Final on St Patrick’s weekend.”
Kerry are a side who had to deal with absentees due to Dr Crokes’ success in 2017. While they ended up winning the Allianz National Football League, selector Mikey Sheehy feels that it was ultimately a hindrance, and he is relieved that they have access to their full complement this year after Crokes lost to Nemo Rangers.
“There’s no doubt that, maybe clubs wouldn’t like me to say this, but when you’re training with your club it’s not the same intensity or the same hard physical training that you are doing with the county.
“If you get a run to Paddy’s Day, it does take you a month or six weeks to get back up to the speed so it certainly will benefit us, even though Johnny Buckley and Fionn [Fitzgerald] are injured at the moment. We have Shane Murphy, and Daithi [Casey] is involved and Gavin White is involved in the squad as well but Gavin is carrying a bit of a knock.
“You don’t ever like to see a Kerry club being beaten, particularly by a Cork club but that’s the way it is.”
It remains to be seen if the Kingdom can benefit from having all their stars available for the coming months.
Mikey Sheehy and Cian O’Neill were speaking at the launch of the Allianz National Football League.