Belfast Telegraph

Joy of the game outweighs sacrifice

By Declan Bogue

Maybe not most, but a good proportion of the kind of in-depth player interview you might read over the summer months, will involve an inter-county athlete describing in painstaking detail how much they 'sacrifice' to play for their county.

There is a lot of talk about 'sacrifice'. More still, about 'entertaining' big crowds at Championship matches – as if the crowd don't pay in and the players would like to be at anything else; creosoting a fence say, or hoovering the living room, than right there in the heat of a Championship match.

And as good as they are – and having talked in recent weeks to players who have had their lives changed by the work they do, we appreciate just how good they can be – the Gaelic Player's Association can peddle those kind of lines a little too eagerly.

We are not privy to the innermost thoughts of Waterford's Tony Browne, but we bet he does not see playing for his county as a 'sacrifice'. In coming off the bench against Westmeath on Saturday, we guess he didn't take a deep breath and steel himself at the prospect of going out there and being an 'entertainer.'

No. We imagine he was mad to get out there, to make a difference and to represent his county, two days short of his 40th birthday. Likewise Mickey Linden who came off ff the bench for Mayobridge thirds last weekend to steady the ship in a Championship match against Darragh Cross He's 50 now, by the way.

Linden and Browne play football and hurling as their recreation, decades after others retire from playing, citing time constraints. Playing for the sheer joy of it; imagine.

Belfast Telegraph

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