Sunday 19 January 2020

McGeeney denies Stateside training

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kieran McGeeney has denied that Kildare flouted the training ban on their 14-day USA trip at the end of last year.

Kildare spent 10 days in San Francisco and another four in New York over two weeks between November and December.

Through various events, most notably their white-collar boxing night at the beginning of November, they raised most of the money for the trip themselves.

But there have been suggestions that the trip has been more than just a bonding exercise and reward for a competitive season.

In New York they did have dispensation from the November/ December training moratorium to play a local selection because it was promoting Gaelic football.

McGeeney denied yesterday, however, that the trip was more than a social event despite rumours of intense training sessions.

"If anyone wants to visit the bars in New York and San Francisco they will find out they were frequented quite frequently.

"Anyone who knows me knows if I was on a training holiday that wouldn't have happened," he said.

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"We enjoyed the social side of the trip. Inter-county players have to keep themselves fit over the winter anyway. My own opinion on the closed season is that we maybe have to educate people more about training and what they should and shouldn't be doing."

The training ban over the two months, introduced last year, has proved contentious, with McGeeney one of its most ardent critics.

Mayo manager John O'Mahony has claimed that some teams have been breaking it, creating an uneven playing field.

The GAA have vowed to withhold League gate money from any county found to have broken the rules.

McGeeney, whose Kildare team open their NFL Division 2 campaign against Down on Sunday, has watched his squad shrink from 33 to 22 in the space of a few weeks following injuries, Alan Smith's exit and suspensions for Morgan O'Flaherty and Johnny Doyle.

McGeeney was adamant yesterday that both suspensions were cases of mistaken identity but Doyle is willing to take the punishment.

"You could have picked any of the 12 players and they somehow picked the two players who weren't in it," recalled McGeeney.

"Typical of Johnny he said, listen, not much point getting somebody else involved. I'll take it on the chin, and it wasn't the only thing he took on the chin. But we couldn't let Morgan go down for eight weeks for kicking. Everyone who was at it knows Morgan wasn't involved."


On the subject of Smith, McGeeney said it was the player's decision to withdraw last week.

"He just asked for a few weeks off and we said work away. It's up to himself. When a player asks for time you have to wait and see."

McGeeney is adamant that despite the records of the last decade, Leinster football is not lagging behind the other three.

"I don't think that there's anything in the water that makes players more skilful in any other county. I think for Leinster to improve, the counties need to be playing in more big games.

"If the back-door system wasn't in place, Kerry wouldn't have won half the All-Irelands they've won recently. But they learn so quickly. The likes of Tomás and Darragh (O Se) and (Seamus) Moynihan and Declan O'Sullivan.

"I personally feel that pound-for-pound there's as much skill in Leinster as there is anywhere. But that's okay in theory, you have to prove it on the big day. That's where the mental strength comes into it."

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