Walsh leads calls for timing of training ban to be changed
OPPOSITION to the controversial 'closed season' on inter-county training has intensified, with several managers arguing that it is the timing, not the principle of it, that is causing their problems.
Sligo football manager Kevin Walsh, Tipperary boss John Evans and Clare manager Micheal McDermott are not opposed to having an enforced break but are all pleading for the timing of it to be changed.
The ban on collective training in November and December was initially introduced, at the behest of the GAA's medical and player welfare committee, to counter player burnout, but it is not popular among managers, who argue that it is not giving them enough time to prepare their teams for the new season.
"I can understand the need for players to get a break and am all in favour of giving them one," Walsh said. "But forcing every county, including ones who have been out of action since July or August, to take a two-month break in November/December just doesn't make any sense to me.
"Why not give each county the power to select what month, or months, they will rest their own players? For me the logical thing would be for each county to nominate their own closed season, inform the powers that be in Croke Park what those dates are, and then stick rigidly to it."
Evans feels that the current closed season militates especially against the weaker counties, who are idle for far too long once they are knocked out of the All-Ireland championship.
"If the GAA is to develop the weaker counties, they have to allocate a time where players can get fitter and develop their skills," Evans said. "Pat Gilroy is doing sessions at 6.30 in the morning with Dublin. If he had a month's extra training, he wouldn't have to intensify it like that."
Evans believes weaker counties could actually give their players a full three-month break, once it was timed to coincide with whenever they get knocked out of the All-Ireland series.
"If you finish in July, you're off August, September and October, and could go back (training) in November and December," he argued.
McDermott feels that the current system is contributing to injuries, rather than preventing them.
"Given the recent weather and everything, the first time our players actually got out on a pitch was two nights before our McGrath Cup game last weekend," he said.
"Having such little playing time under your belt, and then going straight into a competitive match, surely that's more likely to cause injuries than prevent them?
"Why not apply the training ban in October and November? There's no inter-county action in October anyway, so why not just bring the break forward?"