Thursday 14 December 2017

Colleges conflict must end -- Moyna

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The recurring theme of county versus college conflict must be addressed for once and for all by the GAA, Niall Moyna, the DCU Sigerson Cup team manager and professor at the university's school of health and human performance, has warned.

After Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney became the latest to take issue with the apparent omnipotence of third level colleges at this time of the year, Moyna stated "all options" must be put on the table, and that includes a look at the scheduling of the main third level competitions.

"If that means looking at bringing the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups back to the end of November then let's look at that," he said. "But I wonder would we get the six weeks we require to prepare for our major competitions, which is all we ever ask? I somehow doubt that with all the club activity going on."

Moyna recently floated the idea of scrapping third level competition altogether if that provides the easiest solution. Such a radical overture was designed to prompt debate, he admitted.

But the 'perception' that third level teams are given as much time with elite players as inter-county teams was, he said, "nonsense."

"This idea that we have players from September right through to March is nonsense. We don't have most players right into October because of club commitments. Michael Murphy and Colm Begley were involved with International Rules until early November," he said.

"Then there are other players who have provincial club commitments. We didn't see much of Kevin Nolan prior to Christmas and he's our captain."

Moyna says all any third level manager will want is six weeks to prepare for the biggest games of the season.

"That's all we want. That's all any team or player at this level needs. Up to now we have probably trained an average of once a week, usually on a Monday, and played one game.

"The perception is, of course, that we are doing enormous amounts of training in November and December, but that's a throwback to the '60s and '70s.

"Moving the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups back to late November and December has to be an option.

"That was the way it was pre-1968, but I can remember when the Monaghan championship, in my case, was wrapped up by the end of August and there was no provincial club championships then.

"Would third level teams have full access to players if the finals were at the end of November? I couldn't see it.

"The other problem is breaking up of college years into semesters. Exam times are not uniform between all potential competitors. Many exams take place in early December, so to have the mainstream competitions on top of them may be problematic.

"The GAA really has to grab hold of this issue again and put all issues on the table. I completely understand where the inter-county managers are coming from. From my involvement with Dublin I know how difficult this time of year can be. I, for one, would not want to be a club manager in the present time.

"From where I see it, there are too many competitions. The great fear in the GAA is that if they don't put on so many games, they'll lose players to other sports, but everyone can't be catered for."

Moyna says the GAA must make its mind up on where third level fits in and what purpose it serves.

"Do we exist for the development of elite players or is it for the development of all players. I've seen freshers finals where no one has come along to present the cup.

"For me the standard of Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup is higher than U-21 football. There were eight or nine of our students involved in the All-Ireland final between Dublin and Donegal, but only Johnny Cooper made our Sigerson-winning team. Cork IT had six students involved with the Cork football team.

"There is value in third level, but if it's causing a problem then address it properly."

Moyna believe the GAA should also review the training ban, though he finds it somewhat amusing that managers want more time to train their players.

"The Medical and Science committee in Croke Park produced a statistic recently from three years of research that the average inter-county team trained 13 times for every game played. That's some ratio. What other sport in the world has that kind of ratio."

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