Former Meath forward Joe Sheridan has painted a bleak picture of the current demands and psyche of an inter-county footballer.
In a wide-ranging interview on LMFM Radio, the Seneschalstown clubman, who announced his inter-county retirement last month after acting as a goalkeeper for Royals boss Andy McEntee in 2017, spoke about the motivational difficulties players in weaker counties are experiencing.
He highlighted the huge commitments players are making for so few meaningful games.
"Lads are nearly detesting playing inter-county football. It might be a strong word but you’re playing and training the whole time, you’re taking a lot of time out of your own life," he said.
"It’s coming to a point where you’re saying, ‘Do I really want to do it?’ It’s hard for the lower teams who play every single year and are beaten in the championship. They’ve 30-35 lads doing nearly the exact same training as the other teams and getting very little out of it.
"Then you’re training with very few games — eight in the League, maybe two in the championship and you’re training for six, seven months of the year, minimum."
The 2010 Leinster championship winner admitted that teams like Meath are struggling to retain players because of the increasingly punishing demands required.
"When I started off, no lad would ever leave the Meath squad. It was unheard of. If you bought in, the only reason you left was if you were dropped. These days, lads have different commitments. That’s just the way life has gone. The world is a lot smaller, lads travel for college, for work. You can’t begrudge a lad for going and doing these things because they have to look at their life experiences and life outside of football," he added.
Sheridan stepped away from the game in 2007 at just 23 and he claims he felt he had to do so for his own wellbeing.
"I wasn’t in good form regarding my own footballing side of things. To be honest, I just dreaded going to training. I didn’t want to be there, I had no drive to be there. It was one of the worst runs of form that I’d had
I said ‘Look, I’m not going to drag myself through this just to play football. I have to think of myself and enjoyment of my own life.