McEntee: To play at top level you must put in the hours
Meath manager Andy McEntee believes there is too much made of the sacrifices inter-county players make, insisting that it is a minimum requirement to play elite-level sport.
McEntee, who is in his second year in charge of the county, insists the players are making a choice to play and that "no one is putting a gun to anyone's head".
"I think there is huge negativity out there," he said. "There is too much talk about it, too much talk in the media and from former players about the demands of modern day inter-county football.
"If you want to play sport, your particular sport, at the highest level you've got to put in the hours. There is no getting away from that.
"John Coghlan is our physical trainer. He has an athletics background and he'll tell you a good club athlete trains eight or nine times a week.
"So, if you want to get to the highest level of your sport, you have to put in the effort and the hours.
"There is too much negativity out there about what it takes. If that's what you want that's what you want and you sign up for it.
"No one is putting a gun to anyone's head. And if you don't want it you walk away."
Meath's panel has seen significant turnover over the past few years with the likes of promising defender Brian Conlon, who made his championship debut last summer, reported to have left the panel after the league campaign.
Earlier this season Paddy O'Rourke wrote an article on his decision to depart the panel, citing the lack of a real chance of success as one of the reasons for him moving on. But McEntee insists they have to keep working.
"That's the same in every sport. If only the guys who have a chance of winning compete in every sport you are limiting yourself to very small numbers.
"It's very easy for someone to say 'what's the point in doing all this Dublin are too good?' but where's the challenge in that?
"If you only play because you are guaranteed winning then that's not sport. And the danger for everyone is people say there is no point in competing here, Dublin are going to win Leinster and win the All-Ireland.
"Where's your competition then? And I hear former players from numerous counties including our own talking about... basically saying it is a waste of time, Dublin are going to win. That's disappointing, I find that very disappointing."
McEntee went on to describe their league campaign, which saw their Division 2 status in doubt until the final day, as "disappointing".
However, with two rounds of club championship played in the county, all focus is on their championship opener against Longford in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park with the winners moving on to play Dublin in Croke Park.
And despite Dublin's dominance, McEntee reckons it's a fixture any player should relish.
"If you are a Longford or a Meath player and you don't want to get the opportunity to play Dublin in Croke Park then you are in the wrong place.
"I'm not speaking on behalf of Longford here but going back to the attitude that is out there that I don't understand.
"If you are playing in any sport you want to test yourself against the best in the biggest arena you can possibly play in then that's Dublin in Croke Park so I'm sure Longford are looking at it the same as we are. That's the prize for either team. I consider it a decent prize."