Saturday 20 January 2018

With Australia first up on Saturday, a gruelling weekend's action for club and country awaits Leighton Glynn

BY 4.15 next Monday afternoon, Leighton Glynn will, in the space of 45 hours, have played three games for three different teams in three different codes at three different venues in three different counties -- none of which are his own.

The Wicklow man will have played for Ireland in the International Rules Test against Australia at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick on Saturday night (7.0), for Rathnew against Skryne (Meath) in the Leinster club SFC in Navan on Sunday (3.0) and for Glenealy against St Mullins (Carlow) in the Leinster club IHC at Dr Cullen Park, Carlow (3.0) on Monday.

It's a schedule that makes a mockery of the GAA's stance on burn-out, which includes a black-out of the inter-county scene between the All-Ireland football final in September and early January and a strict ban on collective training in November and December.

Granted, Glynn's ridiculously heavy commitments are probably unique in GAA history, but it's still a fact of life that the official fixtures list left him with an international Test and two club games on three successive days.

Despite the demands they will place on mind and body, Glynn is looking forward to all three games and hopes to come through them safely so that he can begin the build-up for the second International Rules Test at Croke Park on Saturday week.


"Hopefully, I'll be alive and well by Monday night. It's a busy schedule, but I'm delighted with the opportunity I have been given," he says.

Playing for Ireland against Australia is always a massive test of physical well-being, even if the interchange arrangement allows players to pace themselves throughout the four 18-minute quarters.

A Leinster club football game between the Wicklow and Meath champions will also be very demanding, while Glynn, one of Glenealy's main marksmen, will also be a central figure in Monday's hurling clash.

Glynn travelled to Adare last night to link up with the Irish team and begin two days of preparation for Saturday's game, which will end at around 9.0.

"I'll stay for the meal afterwards and then head home. I'd prefer to travel from Rathnew to Navan than from Limerick to Navan on Sunday morning. It's back home on Sunday evening and then off to Carlow on Monday," he says.

"It's a busy schedule, but I'm taking it in stages. I'm only thinking of the Ireland game now and will start looking ahead to the Rathnew game on my way home on Saturday night. Once that's over on Sunday, I'll switch on to the hurling game on Monday."

He found it difficult to juggle international squad sessions and club commitments with Rathnew and Glenealy over the last month but was facilitated by the various managers (Anthony Tohill, Ireland; Harry Murphy, Rathnew; Seamus Murphy, Glenealy) and was able to keep all sides happy.

Glynn was an outstanding success in the 2008 International Rules series in Australia, turning in a man-of-the-match performance in the first Test in Perth where he scored a total of 10 points, including an expertly taken goal. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience and, barring injury, was always certain to be selected for this year's series.

"It's very exciting being part of the International Rules squad," he says. "It's the only chance players from different counties get to train and play together, which is a huge bonus. The series went well for us two years ago. The games were played in a much better atmosphere than in previous years and obviously, that's the way we all want it to continue."

He has found it relatively easy to adapt to the mixed rules, but will put them behind him very quickly once Saturday's Test is over so that he can concentrate on Sunday's clash with Skryne.

Remarkably, he scored 2-2 in both the Wicklow senior football and hurling finals, against Baltinglass and Carnew respectively. Rathnew, who won the Leinster football title in 2001, lost to Ballyboden-St Enda's (Dublin) in last year's quarter-final, but have high hopes of making good progress this year.

"Travelling to Navan to play Skryne is a tough start, but we've been going well, so we're ready to have right go at the Leinster championship," says Glynn.

Wicklow's senior hurling champions compete in the Leinster intermediate championship, which, despite the absence of the super-powers from the strong counties, is still very competitive.

Former Wexford senior manager Seamus Murphy is in charge of Glenealy this year and has, according to Glynn, brought a real sense of freshness to the scene, which was evident in their march to county honours.

"Hopefully, we can now take it into the Leinster scene, but it's going to be tough against St Mullins, especially at Dr Cullen Park," Glynn remarks.

Glynn's busy schedule will be a boost to St Mullins, as it asking an awful lot of any player to line out in three important games on successive days. Quite whether he can reach his usual high standards after playing for Ireland and Rathnew remains to be seen, but he's determined to give it his best shot.

"If things go well for Ireland and Rathnew, it will make it easier for me on Monday," he says. "As I say, it's one game at a time so, for now, it's all about Ireland. It's important we do well on Saturday to put ourselves in a good position for the second game at Croke Park."

Irish Independent

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