Gilroy defends rousing Dubs at dawning of the day
DUBLIN have quit their pre-dawn training sessions for the moment, but manager Pat Gilroy says they'll return to them again before the championship and has defended the practice.
Lar Corbett's decision to quit the Tipperary hurling panel this week, and a raft of recent inter-county retirements in Kilkenny and Tyrone, has reignited the debate about the heavy training demands being made on modern Gaelic players.
Dublin's 6.0 sessions are seen, by some, as the most extreme example of this, but Gilroy has reiterated that Dublin do it for practical reasons and says it suits their players perfectly.
"It's a lifestyle thing that works for us," he said. "A guy can get from Dalkey in 15 minutes at 6.0, but if he tried to do that at six in the evening he'd have to leave around four.
"There is a big benefit for us because of the traffic and distances being travelled."
He said Dublin only train at dawn for two periods of the season, both designed to dovetail with exam periods for his panel's 18 college students.
"You couldn't do those sessions for months on end, it's a very short burst of them to make up for the 'closed season' and we'll also do them again when guys are doing exams in May.
"It allows them get their training over early in the day and we try to be as respectful of their lives as we can," he stressed. "There's definitely a lot more made of it than it is.
"I don't see arguments being made about swimmers of 12 and 13 years of age who get up at 4.30 every morning and then go to school afterwards.
"It sounds very exotic, but it's actually a very practical thing and lads love it," he said, adding that his biggest difficulty was getting players to stop training in their down-time.
But he agreed that the life-span of a top inter-county player has definitely contracted.
"The facts are that just three of our players have children. The day of a guy playing into his 30s with a small, young family is getting less and less because there are other pressures."
A plethora of injuries, particularly to defenders -- Mick Fitzsimons is now out with a shoulder twinge -- and at midfield, where they're now without Declan Lally (pulled muscle) and Eamon Fennell (suspended), has left the All-Ireland champions without their usual depth for today's difficult trip to Mayo and has hastened the return of Alan and Bernard Brogan, who are both expected to make their seasonal debuts off the bench tonight.
The Dubs' capitulation to Kerry, particularly in midfield last week, left people wondering if they had celebrated too long after the All-Ireland, but Gilroy said: "I'd be very happy with what we've done since January 1, guys have really knuckled down.
"The fitness difference we had in February in the last two years is gone now because other teams have trained just as hard in January," he noted. "That's an advantage we no longer have."
"(Other teams) have really analysed what we're doing, things that we do around the middle were shut down very quickly and robustly, that's a factor now and we have to deal with that."