Belfast Telegraph

Failure to treat players right should give chiefs some food for thought

By Declan Bogue

It is often said that the modern county player makes huge sacrifices.

Indeed they do. They train hard – harder than most – they sacrifice their entire spare time and social life for the dubious pleasure of spending their Sundays rolling round in mud in far-off fields and falling asleep on coach journeys.

The parlay of this is that they might experience success for their team, something that brings joy to an entire county. That is a very powerful motivator indeed.

There are other sundry bonuses such as player grants, having all their leisure wear and equipment paid for and being fed well and housed in fitting accommodation while on away trips.

Enjoying recognition from their peers is well down the list, but when a player is nominated for an All-Star it can surprise them how much they want it.

The done thing is to laugh it off, say it is merely recognition of the team effort and that it would mean nothing, Michael, if they couldn't come back and finally land/defend Liam/Sam. Rest assured, however, they want it.

Last Friday the GAA All-Stars night at Croke Park eschewed the usual routine of four-course dinner in a formal setting with lashing of speeches and a drinking match commencing at midnight.

In this more casual setting, players were still expected to wear their best bib and tucker, but it was the only thing professional. Somewhere along the line, there was a breakdown in communication and acting on the advice of previous attendees who felt the meal part was a bit grand, there was no sit-down dinner.

However, any internal company assessment will eventually determine that the most important people in the company are the staff. And if there was one way of undermining those that devote themselves to playing inter-county, it was to throw them finger food at a black-tie event.

Clearly, the Association can cope with catering for the crowd, which was around 1,000, given the numbers who enjoy corporate hospitality on the biggest matchdays.

And it should also have been borne in mind that because they are athletes after all, fish and chips and gourmet burgers are probably not the best choice of food.

Conor Gormley is a teetotal, non-smoker who refuses biscuits with his tea at any time of the year. Could you imagine him on his second portion of fish and chips?

Bringing the All-Stars to Croke Park is a fine idea. A pity then that the execution represented a display of fur coat and no knickers.

Belfast Telegraph

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