Counties go cold on warm weather trips
The number of inter-county teams setting off for warm weather training has reduced dramatically this year.
Only two sides -- the hurlers of Dublin and Cork -- are confirmed travellers as cost-cutting measures by almost every county board kicks in. Dublin are off to Portugal on Sunday morning, the day after they play Kilkenny in a crunch Allianz National League match in Croke Park.
Cork are also off next week to Spain, but after that the trail runs cold for warm weather training as costs become too prohibitive.
The Kerry footballers could yet return to Portugal where they spent five days last April, but they have an outside chance of making the league football final, so nothing has been set in stone.
The Waterford hurlers went to Spain last year but they head to Reading in the next couple of weeks to use the facilities of the local soccer club and train with the Irish players for three days. Noel Hunt is a Waterford native, while Shane Long is a former Tipperary minor hurling star.
Warm weather training camps grew in popularity over the last decade and became a major part of many inter-county teams' preparations. But with bills for inter-county teams soaring over €20m, most county boards have had to scale back dramatically as revenues shrink.
In recent years both the Tipperary hurlers and footballers took in warm weather training weeks which were clearly beneficial to both squads. The hurlers had to shelve their plans to go last year because of the ash clouds from the Icelandic volcano.
But as Tipperary engage in a series of hard-hitting cost-cutting measures, any plans to take preparations abroad have been shelved.
The footballers of Laois, Cork and Meath were all abroad in April last year but have no plans to return this year. The average cost of taking a squad and back-room team out to one of the tailored resorts in the Algarve or Costa Blanca is around €35,000.
The GAA have imposed restrictions on when inter-county squads can travel for warm weather training, with a cut-off point introduced once the leagues have been completed.
Last year Mayo had to shelve a trip abroad for training because the dates fell outside the permitted time.
Squads can only stage weekend training camps within Ireland during championship time once they are within 13 days of a championship game.