Waterford have to make do with three weeks' preparation
Waterford set out on their 2017 football championship journey this weekend with just three weeks collective training behind them, manager Tom McGlinchey has revealed.
Ahead of their Munster quarter-final with Cork, McGlinchey has told how preparations only began in earnest on May 10 (two weeks ago last night) because of club fixtures.
"We played our last League game on April 1 and I didn't see the full panel until May 10 so that's six weeks. That's just the reality of it," he pointed out.
McGlinchey wonders about the logic of counties spending so much money on preparation when they break for so long and lose momentum.
"This club versus county debate, it really does have to be thrashed out because a county like Waterford, we put in huge (effort)," he said.
"Now we're not big spenders. The players are entitled to their expenses and their meals after training and transport to matches but there's a lot of money goes into preparing an inter-county team like and even teams like Waterford, Wicklow, Carlow… they're spending six figures.
"Then they'd take a complete break for five or six weeks. It is hard to fathom but that's what happens in the weaker counties. You just have to take a break because the players are demanded by their clubs and rightly so.
"If you were to look at it from a business point of view, is it the right thing to do? I don't think so. We're trying to cram three months' work into three weeks and it's going to be hard."
In Waterford, where hurling is king, McGlinchey faces long-established obstacles.
"The lads have been playing senior club hurling for the last few weeks. I would say 90pc of the fellas on the football panel play club hurling at senior level," he said.
"That's a high standard and hurling is No 1 in the county. But the effort they put in to play with their county in football is second to none."
McGlinchey is an advocate of a tiered system, despite less than satisfactory memories of the Tommy Murphy Cup when he managed the Tipperary footballers.
"The best competition in the GAA at the moment is the League," he said.
"You've four groups of eight, all of equal standing. Any team could beat any other team on a given day. It's the model to go by. It's a fair competition.
"With Super 8s I suppose we'll see another divide. I think it's still a good idea but there should probably be a top eight, middle eights and a bottom eight.
"Super 8s will be great for the game but it's that middle eight and the bottom eight that you have to worry about.
"We've seen that in the hurling, but the teams that are involved in the Christy Ring, the Lory Meagher, the Nicky Rackard and even the Leinster round robin that's their All-Ireland, and if you ever watch those matches, whenever the cup is being presented or when it comes to the final stages of it, it's an All-Ireland and it still means an awful lot," he said.
Waterford had a disappointing League after a decent start but McGlinchey feels home advantage in Fraher Field will spur them on.
"The League was disappointing for us but we've a home game now so hopefully the boys will use that as a bit of motivation," he said.
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