Sport Gaelic Football

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Tyrone's club schedule is not fair to players – Morgan

Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan
Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan has expressed relief at finally winning a championship match in the county colours and admitted he learned a valuable lesson in Ballybofey last year.

The former Dungannon Swifts soccer star insists he let the Donegal fans get into his head and affect his free-taking in his only championship game of 2013.

A knee injury subsequently put him out for the season and he was black-carded in their drawn Ulster opener against Down this year.

That is why he was so relieved to survive a full 70 minutes in Newry last weekend, where the pinpoint accuracy of his free-taking (0-3, two '45's) and kick-outs, and a penalty save in the first minute, showed why he is already being favourably compared with Stephen Cluxton.

"Ballybofey was a real learning curve for me. I reacted to the crowd, which I shouldn't have done, but I feel I've matured and learned from that and moved on," Morgan said.

However, Morgan echoed county manager Mickey Harte's criticism of the short turnaround that Tyrone's players face for club championship action this week because of a new club schedule.

Most of them were back training with their clubs on Sunday, straight after Saturday's victory over Down. Tyrone traditionally did not play the first round of their club championship until August, but they changed their schedule this year and have the first round over the coming six days.

Those games were originally due last weekend but had to be postponed because of the county's Ulster replay. The first of them takes place on Thursday.

"There's so many of the boys, like Sean (Cavanagh) and Mattie (Donnelly) and Colm (Cavanagh), they've all played 70 minutes in the two games (against Down) and they had to give their all because it's not like those games were dead and buried," said Morgan.

"Now they're expected to go out this week and play the most important club game of their year, it's an issue for every club in Tyrone. It's not any way to come down from a county match, to go straight into a club training session the next day," Morgan said.

"Mattie Donnelly's club actually play on Thursday, that's no turnaround. They say they're doing it for the players but I'm yet to be asked, as a player, whether I wanted it and I don't think any other players were asked either.

"It's a thing the CCCC in Tyrone have come up with and they're going to stick to their guns, but I'm not overly happy with it and I don't think the majority of the players are either.

"If my club's beaten next Sunday you're talking three, four or five boys will go to America for the summer and where does that leave you for the league?

"You're sitting scrapping, trying to get players. There's fellas working in England, there's players gone to America already, the last thing we need is to encourage them to go."

Irish Independent

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