Fixture clashes hurt players: Donegal star McBrearty
Donegal star Patrick McBrearty believes there is no easy solution when it comes to fixture clashes, like the one that helped end his club Kilcar's run in the Ulster Under-21 Championship last weekend.
Kilcar were beaten by Magheracloone of Monaghan last Sunday in the tournament organised by Creggan, but they were forced to field without three county players; Patrick's brother Stephen and cousins Ryan and Eoin McHugh.
The trio were required by Donegal senior manager Rory Gallagher as they took on Westmeath in a challenge match.
"As a Kilcar man, you can see how it can be difficult for the lads," said McBrearty at the Setanta coverage launch of the National League at Belfast Castle.
"Rory is trying to get ready for the league and Kilcar want to do well in (the Ulster Under-21 competition). The players are the ones who are caught in the middle of it."
While he could see the difficulty in accommodating both parties, the 22-year-old University of Ulster Jordanstown student feels that Central Council might be able to offer some leadership in re-arranging the fixtures calendar.
"It's another juggling act. These kinds of tournaments and the time they are on, it all needs to be re-evaluated," he said.
"If the county Championships are not being finished by December, it is hard to fix them at another time of the year. But they should look at the fixtures and address that.
"It's not fair on the players. The players are the ones who are in the middle of it.
"I think it needs to come from Central level, but I imagine it could be quite difficult as well because there are so many competitions going on.
"It's really hard for me to say what way they should format it, but it should probably come from the top."
McBrearty believes that Donegal need to put a few things right after last year and their disappointing Championship defeats in the Ulster final to Monaghan and the All-Ireland quarter-final mauling by Mayo.
In assessing the rest of the competition out there, he still feels Donegal have what it takes against the likes of Mayo, Dublin and Kerry.
"We feel that we would have a good chance any day we come up against them," added McBrearty.
"We will meet them in the league, but we have to concentrate on Ulster and winning Ulster is the way to go through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals stage.
"Going through as provincial losers is a big negative, as we learned.
"We were in the All-Ireland final in 2014 and were only a kick of the ball away from beating Kerry to the title, so we are not that far away."