McWeeney says county players need protection on return to club action
Leitrim football captain Michael McWeeney has echoed the views of Cavan manager Mickey Graham by suggesting county players have been targeted on their return to club action over the last few weeks.
Graham has bemoaned a growing injury list in Cavan as players grapple with five games in four weeks. McWeeney, Leitrim's full-back, can identify with that, having sustained whiplash in a collision while playing club league for St Mary's, Carrick-on-Shannon that has forced him to miss their last two games.
Despite the euphoria of promotion and a rare national final in Croke Park that united the county late last month, McWeeney (right) feels some of the returning players have come in for special attention.
He revealed that almost half of their county squad were unavailable because of knocks and injuries when they went to play a challenge earlier this week.
"It was a bit of a lull coming off it (Division Four final) because of the hype that had built up, but it was great to go straight back into the clubs.
"But when you go back you would prefer to have a bit of protection," he said. "We played a game on Monday night with Leitrim and half our team were missing because we got knocks. I'd like to see players get more protection.
"I saw the Cavan manager saying it, how many players he is down. I see it every year - when you go back (in these weeks), you are targeted straight away. I'd just like more protection, from my own point of view."
McWeeney's injury came as a result of a heavy collision, one he accepts could happen to any player at any stage of the season. But it's a trend he sees year-on-year. "It's the exact same everywhere. You get looked after - you are the man - even though I was full-back. It's normally the forwards that get looked at - you're watching him go up the field.
"I got a collision. I've been ruled out with whiplash for the last couple of weeks so I don't know, time is against me with it.
"It's in every county. There's no point making excuses. Just get on with it," said McWeeney, who quit a job in the finance department of Croke Park to take up a games promotion role with Dublin club Erin Go Bragh so he could facilitate his inter-county career better.
McWeeney hopes to return to training later this week or, at the latest, early next week in advance of their Connacht Championship quarter-final with Roscommon on May 12.
One thing their league campaign has helped to do is stem the flow of players heading to the US this summer. McWeeney revealed that very few of the squad will be taking up the opportunity to play football in America this summer.
"We used to have a lot more heading away," he reflected. "One or two are stepping away for sunnier ball. Momentum is good."
Whether they would be prepared to remain at home for future summers, where they'd be re-routed to a second-tier championship after a provincial championship exit, remains to be seen, he feels.
McWeeney feels players will only support the concept if it is afforded the same status as the mainstream championship.
"I'd be in favour of it if it was promoted the exact same way as the first tier," he said. "If it was a tier-two championship that would have the same goals as the first tier, All Stars and trips as well, they'd have to be equal.
"What I've heard about the Tommy Murphy Cup before was that it was just a gimmick. My fear is that if it took that route, it might be okay for a year or two but could slide then. The GAA, in my eyes, care about Division One and Two, and Division Three and Four are just making up numbers."