Juggling college and intercounty is ‘tough mentally’
The third-level football and hurling season is in full swing and with it comes tales of young players being put under immense pressure mentally and physically as they try to juggle inter-county commitments with the demands of Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups.
There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence about what players have to endure when they are serving more than one master.
On Saturday evening, David Clifford limped out of Kerry’s game against Mayo after playing three games in six days.
On Tuesday evening concerns were raised after his team-mate Gavin Crowely was taken off at half-time while playing for Tralee Institute of Technology against Dublin Institute of Technology.
“It’s very hard on players trying to juggle both,” Laois footballer John O’Loughlin told RTÉ Sport.
“You could be playing a League match on a Saturday and at this time of year it’s 70 minutes of tough football in heavy conditions and then four days later you are expected to do the same.
“Amateur players have to be managed. It’s the same issue every year and it’s going on a long time.”
O’Loughlin played Sigerson Cup with University College Dublin for five years, for two of those years he also played Fitzgibbon Cup while juggling his inter-county commitments with Laois.
“I think it comes down to accommodating managers. It can be done if managers are willing to sacrifice and be accommodating, I played on a lot of teams and I found that when managers cooperated it was manageable.
“In 2018 everything is so professional, managers are looking at it from a selfish point of view but they have to look after their team and that’s fair enough.
“I think it will have to be addressed, especially when you see what players are doing. It doesn’t make sense that players could end up playing eight games in three weeks at this time of year and then one game in a month during the summer.”
There has been much debate about the decision of Dublin’s Brian Howard opted to sit out of Dublin Institute of Technology’s Sigerson quarter-final against the Kerry college. The Raheny player is making his mark with Dublin having played against Tyrone last Saturday.
“When you are that bit younger you don’t have the experience and the know how you have now. You are trying to read people’s minds and you think you need to do everything and impress everyone. It’s tough mentally as much as physically.”
“The Sigerson Cup is a really good competition, players want to play. There are five or six medals in Gaelic games that are really prestigious and the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon are up there. There is a place for it but maybe in a different time of the year.”