Tuesday 25 April 2017

Gap between haves and have nots is only widening - Magee

Magee insisted that whatever the gap between the big counties and the minnows might be in terms of talent, it is underpinned by the respective resources available. Picture credit: Dáire Brennan / Sportsfile
Magee insisted that whatever the gap between the big counties and the minnows might be in terms of talent, it is underpinned by the respective resources available. Picture credit: Dáire Brennan / Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

In Navan on Sunday, the scoreboard showed a huge gap between Wicklow and Meath.

Afterwards, post-match comments revealed two sides who will compete in the same Championships this summer but in reality, are operating in different stratospheres.

Meath manager Andy McEntee grimaced at the thought of cutting his 51-strong panel back before the start of the League, while Wicklow boss Johnny Magee bemoaned yet more turnover in his side.

Magee insisted that whatever the gap between the big counties and the minnows might be in terms of talent, it is underpinned by the respective resources available, an area where Meath are not wanting just now.

The Royals' new sponsorship deal with Devenish Nutrition is a "substantial increase" on their previous arrangement and will "cover the costs" of the senior team for the next three years. And this is a Meath team who have struggled to make an impact in the Championship of late.

Magee can only dream of such luxuries. He has lost around a dozen players he had involved last year. He has handed out 18 League debuts and 10 Championship bows in just four summer matches since taking charge for the 2015 season.

And while he admits that selling the idea of playing for Wicklow has been challenging, the former Dublin footballer argues that central investment in counties like Wicklow can reap real rewards.

"Look at Dublin hurling. They won a League title after 50-odd years and a Leinster title. Why? Because €1.2m was pumped in and they got resources and coaches in there," he said.

"I remember walking out of Parnell Park, a bag full of gear and two pairs of boots on a summer's evening and in come the hurlers after us with a skimpy Arnotts top on them and a bag and you think 'Thank God I'm not a Dublin hurler'. So it's not like with like."

Should Magee engineer a win over Louth in Leinster, he'll have another date with the Royals. But he believes asking the have nots to compete with the haves is inherently unfair.

"Andy is working off a panel of 50 and is sending two teams around the country, playing challenge matches," he said. "I don't have the resources to do that; if I had it would be great to do that, yes.

"Like, you guys (the media) work for the papers and if I do an interview or to promote something, are you going to print my article over Jim Gavin's? No you're not because your editor will say the Wicklow manager won't get people to buy the paper or get hits on the internet.

"So it's hard for me to get a sponsor in. And Dublin have eight sponsors. So it's not like for like. How are we meant to combat that?"

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