Wednesday 21 August 2019

Inter-county apathy a worrying trend

Galway football captain Gary O’Donnell. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Galway football captain Gary O’Donnell. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Comments from Galway football captain Gary O'Donnell will have come as a surprise in a county which has always regarded itself as a major power, albeit one that goes through periods of mediocrity.

Still, it stands third behind Kerry and Dublin on the All-Ireland senior title roll of honour and remains the only county other than the Kingdom to have won the three-in-a-row in the last 50 years.

For all that, it seems that interest in playing for Galway has been lukewarm at times.

"Players want to play for Galway now. That's a big difference from where it was two years, maybe even a year, ago. They see a bit of success and naturally it draws them in. It's great to have players wanting to play again," said O'Donnell. Galway manager Kevin Walsh said last year that over 50 players had declined an invitation to trial for the county squad, which is a shocking indictment of ambition levels.

Galway were still good enough to dislodge Mayo as Connacht champions this year before being quickly reunited with reality when losing heavily to Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Still, the question remains as to why players refused to answer the county call. It's not confined to Galway either. Several other counties are also weakened by defections, with players unwilling to commit to the increasingly demanding schedules. It's a worrying trend.

However, it's understandable since players are required to devote so much time and energy to an inter-county programme that guarantees them only two games between early April and the end of the season. How daft is that?

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