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McEnaney reignites winter break controversy

Meath football manager Seamus McEnaney wants the ban on inter-county training to be changed so that teams can get their preparations officially under way in December.

McEnaney emphasised yesterday how difficult it remains to prepare teams without a proper pre-season.

He also voiced his opposition to starting the leagues in October, a move that will be the subject of a Roscommon motion at Congress in April.

"The ban needs to be lifted for December," he said. "We're the only sport in the world that hasn't a five-week run in to our competitions. It needs to change. I think everyone would agree it needs to change. I think the Allianz Football League starting in the first week of February is the ideal place."

The ban on training in November and December has been in place for the last three seasons and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that some counties have been ignoring the imposed moratorium.

The GAA's director general Paraic Duffy recently admitted that the situation wasn't ideal and there have been suggestions that the return to training for inter-county teams could be on a staggered basis, dependent on how long their previous championship campaign was.


GAA president Christy Cooney reaffirmed yesterday, however, that momentum for change must come from the counties.

"The situation with the training ban is that it's a matter for Congress to schedule a change if there's a motion to do that.

"If counties decide to change it, it's a matter for them but we must always respect the need for players to have some break and some rest and if counties decide to change, so be it," said Cooney.

McEnaney is one of seven Ulster managers in charge of Division 2 teams and feels it is the most competition second division for 20 years.

"For any team, it's been proven over the last 10 years that the best place to play your football is in Division 1," said McEnaney, who welcomed Jamie Queeney back from Australia in recent days to further strengthen his squad.

"There's no doubt about that, but this Division 2 league is the most competitive I have seen in 20 years. Some of the top teams in the country are in it."

McEnaney is keen that Meath improve a dismal away record over the last few years as they prepare for their trip to Portlaoise to face Laois.

"Our record on the road has been dismal in the last few years. It's a challenge on its own, our away record, but we wouldn't be looking beyond Laois on Saturday night."

Irish Independent