| 12.8°C Dublin

Hyland putting players first with training in Dublin as Leitrim plot promotion push


Leitrim boss Terry Hyland. Photo: Sportsfile

Leitrim boss Terry Hyland. Photo: Sportsfile


Leitrim boss Terry Hyland. Photo: Sportsfile

With 26 of his squad based in Dublin, Leitrim boss Terry Hyland acknowledges that "it's simpler to bring the mountain to Muhammad than the other way around".

Such a scenario can prove disastrous for a new manager but Hyland has decided to train that cohort in Dublin midweek rather than have them "waste time on the road home".

Having been involved in the ESRI report detailing inter-county demands on players, the former Cavan supremo knows that making things easier for players is half the battle.

"If you're asking a guy to travel to Carrick-on-Shannon from Dublin, it's nearly a four-hour round trip and we try to cut that out. Sometimes it's simpler to bring the mountain to Muhammad than the other way around," Hyland said.

"We'll try to continue it for as long as we can. If a body of work is going to take an hour an half or two hours max, you shouldn't have to put in four hours getting there and back, it's a long job."

Hyland hopes that appreciation from players is reciprocated in the form of results but he feels the GAA needs to adopt a proactive approach in helping other counties which have personnel working or studying in the capital.

"What can we do for these counties? The ones that have to travel and the weaker counties. Why can we not have a base in Galway for the west where lads can go and train, or in Limerick or Dublin or wherever?" he asked.

"Counties are building their own centres of excellence and it's much needed within their county to bring their youth on but for guys who are based away, something else is needed.

"We have Abbotstown but if 25 counties look for Abbotstown on Tuesday night, they're not going to get it. It's making facilities available that we can take that travel element, which deters some players, out of it."

While cognisant that smaller counties are at a numerical disadvantage, Hyland sees no reason why Leitrim can't be competitive but he feels that significant gaps in the inter-county calendar need to be filled.

"Structures are needed to fill these gaps where counties drop out early, that there's something else that you can put in within the inter-county system that can keep them up at a certain level.

"Then, when they come back the following year, they're not trying to fill in a big void.

"That long summer off creates its own problems as there's large gaps in the players' development."

With six weeks of pre-season under their belts, Hyland is happy with where Leitrim stand ahead of their season-opener with Mayo tomorrow in the Connacht FBD League.

That will mark James Horan's second coming as Mayo boss but Hyland is more concerned with their competitiveness ahead of a promotion bid from Division 4, something he feels is key to Leitrim's progression.

"That has to be Leitrim's aim, if it's not this year it has to be within the next two years. You get momentum going and enthusiasm comes off the back of that. Players want to be more involved.

"We're no different to other counties in that two or three of the lads asked in didn't come in; it's up to us to create a culture that if those same fellas get a call next year that they will come in."

Irish Independent