Wexford minor row a rare case of respect for training regulations
Eddie Walsh feels that he has been hard done by.
Removed as Wexford minor hurling manager for what he would regard as merely doing his best to have the squad at its most competitive next summer, he said that he took on the job on condition that "that there would be no interference".
Wexford County Board chairman Diarmuid Devereux said he was left with no option but to take action due to Walsh's decision to hold minor training twice last week, despite most of the squad already having commitments with St Peter's, Good Counsel and Combined Colleges as they prepare for the Leinster schools championships.
He said that an agreement was in place allowing the colleges teams to have full access to the players at this time of year, and that removing Walsh was the only honest option after he organised minor training.
Whatever about the clash in Wexford, the fact is that, under rule, collective training for all county minor squads is barred until February 1.
All very straightforward, except adherence to the rules on when teams can start training are breached more often than they are observed.
"My job is to implement the rules while also being conscious of what's best for players. To allow students -- most of whom are preparing for their Leaving Cert -- to be forced to train with college and county minor teams at this time of year would be an abdication of responsibility," said Devereux.
He is to be complimented for taking a stand. However, it's impossible to accept that Wexford is the only county where minor squads are currently in training, despite the official February 1 commencement date laid down by rule.
Similarly, at U-21 level, the rule states that county football squads are not allowed into collective training until January 1, followed by the hurlers after the completion of the Fitzgibbon Cup. It's a rule more breached than observed and therein rests the problem.
County A plays by the rules, only to come up against County B, who ignored them and won because of their superior fitness levels, Guess which manager gets more credit? Manager A would be regarded as naive for sticking by the regulations while Manager B is praised for having his team so advanced.
And then there are the senior guidelines. The permitted dates for the resumption of training are staggered, depending on when a county exited the championship. The return dates are as follows: June exit: November 15; July: December 1; August: December 8; September: December 29.
The reality is that many team managers ignore the rule, usually with the blessing of the county executive. After all, if the training lights are blazing in a neighbouring county, it's very difficult for a manager to adhere to a rule which may leave his squad at a distinct disadvantage, certainly in the early part of the season.
Wexford's stance on the minor hurling issue is to be applauded but what about the rest of the counties? Are we to believe that they are all adhering rigorously to the letter of the law? We won't because they are not.