It was a long wait for football fans since last year's All-Ireland final, but this weekend the big county games returned with a bang or should that be half a bang?
Looking at the team announcements over the past week, combined with the tales of woe from the various team managers, there was a feeling of disappointment among many people.
Nearly all the county teams were understrength – some seriously so – and one wonders why managers would not have gone flat out to field their best teams for the Allianz National League which, in theory at least, is the second most important competition in football.
At one stage last week, Armagh manager Paul Grimley stated that he would be missing about 12 players and James Horan said that about 10 Mayo players were unavailable and it went on and on in most other counties too.
Senior managers in most cases released U-21 players good enough to play this weekend, but surely managers have an obligation to the paying customers to put their best team on the field for the start of the league?
Of course, the biggest list of absentees was the one which listed the injured. Now, yesterday was February 2, most players had little or no serious action on the field for the past three months and yet we have this horrendous amount of injured players.
So what's wrong?
We have, after all, the most sophisticated training, coaching and physical preparations ever available to county teams and players have access to top-class physiotherapy and medical treatment, yet we still seem to have more injured players than ever before – even before the football season starts.
Hip operations are all the rage at present – I was going to say they are 10 a penny but, in fact, each one costs up to €10,000 – but there needs to be a scientific analysis done as to why the modern-day players are incurring so many serious injuries.
Maybe the insurance companies that pay a large portion of these medical procedures might get involved. Overuse of players is, of course, the main reason, but there is a sort of omerta about that in GAA circles nowadays.