Thursday 8 December 2016

Commitment will force more GAA stars to take break, warn Dubs duo

Michael Verney

Published 19/01/2016 | 02:30

Jonny Cooper
Jonny Cooper
Paul Schutte at yesterday’s AIG launch. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

It will be strange for Johnny Cooper without Rory O'Carroll patrolling the square this summer, but O'Carroll's year out is a signal of changing times.

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The defensive duo, both 26, have been part of a golden age in the capital, winning an U-21 title together in 2010 before teaming up to win senior crowns in 2013 and 2015, while O'Carroll also starred in their 2011 triumph.

His absence leaves a void, which could yet decide Sam Maguire's next destination, as early GAA retirements and a rise in young players taking time away from GAA gathers speed.

Speaking at AIG's launch to announce a 47pc discount on home insurance to new customers, Cooper said he understands why more and more players are taking playing sabbaticals.

"The accolades and medals and everything else Rory has won have been a testament to his full commitment to the cause, and he obviously wants to experience something different and travel," Cooper said.

"No doubt we'll get him back, hopefully in the not too distant future. There are a lot of things other than sport, and people have to go and enjoy life.

"I know he likes to experience different things. Football for him, like many of us, is only one aspect of our lives. I'm sure it has entered lads' heads and thought processes, the commitments, etc."

Cooper feels that O'Carroll "might regret it if he never went" but the Na Fianna defender has never considered taking a break himself and would revel in substituting at No 3.

Dublin hurling also lost one of its marquee names for 2016 with All-Star Danny Sutcliffe opting off Ger Cunningham's squad due to college commitments.

Corner-back Paul Schutte, currently recovering from a second shoulder surgery, respects his decision and expects a further inter-county exodus nationally.

"If you are not willing to give 100pc, you will be found out," Schutte said. "Danny is just a player who if he can't give 100pc, he can't commit. I respect that.

"I don't think it will be the end of Danny. I definitely think it could be (the same) case as Óisín Gough, where he just had to look after himself for the two years, and then when he can afford to put the time in he will be back.

"Not everyone can commit and I think you'll lose more inter-county players. They'll drop off for a year or two, then come back, with more cases like Danny."

Schutte's daily schedule, rising at 7.0 and not returning home until more than 15 hours later after training, highlights its demands, and he admits he would find it very hard competing for a weaker county.

"If I couldn't see myself winning stuff, it would be very tough to commit to it," Schutte said. "I was joking with my mates over Christmas that I was having my retirement party, that they weren't going to see me for another nine months.

"That's how it is. You put your life on hold. If your not winning, it would be very tough."

Irish Independent

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