Sport

Monday 23 October 2017

Off the Ball: Club ambitions must embrace both codes to achieve real success

Loughmore-Castleiney's Evan Sweeney (left) with Michaeal Webster
Loughmore-Castleiney's Evan Sweeney (left) with Michaeal Webster

Off The Ball - Diarmuid Lyng

It's the time of year again where the focal point of the GAA, the club, has its six weeks in the sun as county finals and provincial championships take centre stage.

Increasingly, clubs are not far behind inter-county standards, as skill, fitness and dedication ensure that the club championship is second, in terms of exposure, only to the All-Ireland.

As standards increase, so too do the onfield demands which the players sign up to. However, there has been a worrying increase of tension within clubs on whether or not to focus on hurling or football.

The argument is that both cannot be done effectively and that there must be a focus on one or the other to be successful.

But let's break that down to its most fundamental part – how that train of thought plays out in real life for the player and the consequences of such a decision.

In a hurling orientated club, football suffers. And vice versa. So, for argument's sake, let's say the club decides that the focus is 'when we're out of the hurling we'll train for football.' That means I effectively say to my football-loving clubmate that they must come in and help me to achieve my dream of a county hurling championship, but I'll give only a little back in return when the hurling is over.

They are supposed to sacrifice their dreams to help 'the club,' but the place they go for an avenue to express themselves in the way that they love takes more than it gives back.

That's not a club representative of a community, the value we pride ourselves most on in the GAA. If success comes at the expense of the dreams of our friends and team-mates, it could be time to re-evaluate what we term success.

Give me a group of players giving everything they can for everyone in the club – win, lose or draw – any day. It's clear that Loughmore-Castleiney in Tipperary have embraced this idea, capturing both the hurling and football championships this year. A rising tide raises all ships.

The bond that develops among players is almost tangible and as a natural by-product, success will follow – whatever way you view success.

DL

Irish Independent

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