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Final fatigue an excuse for rubbish bin

THE statistics back up the argument that it's unfair to ask a team beaten in a provincial final to play for their championship survival again just six days later. And that's what Derry are going to have to overcome against Kildare in Croke Park tomorrow.

Only Dublin, in 2001, managed to win a qualifier the weekend after losing a Leinster final when they beat Sligo; since then, 11 teams have tried and failed.

But it's a theory I don't buy into at all. In fact, it's a load of rubbish. As I can see it, there are two main arguments behind why beaten provincial finalists fail to push on the following week.

One is the physical demands of playing on consecutive weekends, and the second pertains to the mental side of recovering from a final loss.

They are valid points, to a certain extent. Of course there will be knocks and bangs from playing six days earlier but you can't say that Derry's Ulster final clash with Donegal was any more physical than Kildare's trip to Navan last weekend.

So that removes the physical excuses, which means that the biggest obstacle for players to overcome is psychological.

Nowadays, there is a sub-industry within the GAA to prepare players mentally for matches. There are thousands of euro spent on it every year and it didn't exist 20 years ago. So either the head doctors aren't doing their jobs or the turnaround is a convenient excuse for players.

In fairness to Derry, they've made all the right noises. Pick yourself up and dust yourself down is the right attitude. After all, you're getting to play in Croke Park.

Irish Independent