Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Declan Bogue: McMenamin cuts right to the heart of the matter

Anybody travelling to the opening league fixtures on Saturday night could have tuned into an interesting discussion on Irish radio station Newstalk to shorten their journey.

Alongside regular contributors Billy Joe Padden and Conor Deegan, Ryan McMenamin was in the studio for the day.

It was the kind of conversation that was in keeping with the mood of everyone before the onset of another league campaign. For that day at least, everyone is a contender. There are games to look forward to, nobody is on a run of losses, and they have seen nothing yet to worry them for further down the line.

In his involvement with the GAA however, McMenamin wears a few different hats. He's clearly not going to be the type that flops down onto a sofa in his late 30's, happy to trade banter on the Sunday Game and lifting a healthy wedge into the bargain.

Nor can we see him becoming a regular in the Dublin studio of Newstalk, which can be illuminating but is beginning to suffer from same-voice syndrome.

For years, he has volunteered as a underage manager in his club, Dromore St Dympna's.

On Sunday, he brought his under-21 team to the Creggan tournament, but he was bristling at the various mentions on social networking sites stating it was a disgrace that some of his players were not allowed to play for college teams in the lead up to their club match.

His point was that players are raised by their club, trained by their club, and when every other team deem them surplus to requirements, there will always be a place for them within their club.

He then talked of the impending fixture chaos in Tyrone. Should the county team make the league semi-finals, there is the potential that only two club league fixtures could be played before Tyrone's Ulster Championship clash with Donegal on May 26.

In Tyrone, most teams are already training at present. The trend is towards twice a week, but some are insisting on three pitch sessions and handing out weights programmes for players on the 'nights off.'

Recently, Professor Niall Moyna voiced his own concerns over the top-heavy ratio of training to games. In an amateur game, the training culture massively outweighs the playing of games. This is unfair to players, and it is also holding back the evolution of the games at club level.

McMenamin (pictured) even went as far to forecast a nightmare scenario in the future where players would be contracted to their county, and would only be loaned back out to play the club Championship.

His reasoning was because it is inter-county where the money is made. And he cut right to the heart of the matter.

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