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Separate club season would ease county managers' pain

By Declan Bogue

At this time of the year, county managers live in dread of the Sunday evening text message bringing news of a stricken player who may be doubtful for Championship action.

From their point of view, it must seem utterly bizarre that having had exclusive access to their players from November to the last weekend of April, they have to throw them to the Lions of club football, with all its petty resentments and opportunities for injury.

It was a rather phlegmatic Mickey Harte reaction to an injury picked up by Declan McClure - son of 1986 All-Ireland finalist Harry and a man who has shown promise through the spring - while on duty for Clonoe at the weekend.

At present, Tyrone are waiting for a scan on McClure's knee to ascertain if it is cruciate or cartilage damage.

"The gamble is that you may pick up injuries so it is one of those things. I think it is a gamble worth taking," said Harte.

After 25 weeks of the year preparing exclusively for Tyrone on the manicured pitches and astroturf of Garvaghey, there can be no real surprise that an injury or two occurs when players hit the club circuit, with bumpy pitches and a world of variables in play.

"People generally don't understand that it is not just about the injuries that keep them out of matches," Harte continued.

"It actually does impact on your training programme. In your panel you might have 10, 12 players on any given night unable to train the night after the club games.

"I am not decrying that in any way. It's a gamble you have to take so I like them playing, I like them being competitive, I like them being involved rather than sitting on the wings, not getting football with Tyrone, not getting football with their clubs.

"It's just that people might not understand the impact that can have on your training sessions and your overall preparation," Harte added.

Until the club and county seasons are divorced - and who knows if that is even the right thing - this will continue to be a problem.

Last year Tyrone played a round of club league games between the Ulster final win and the All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo. When the Super 8s come in, you may forget about that.

Belfast Telegraph

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