Belfast Telegraph

Declan Bogue: There’s not much stardust in ‘starred’ games

Over the past few weeks, a local newspaper has been running a regular feature whereby they interview club managers and coaches over a range of issues affecting them as they get their seasons underway.

One of those questions was about the thorny issue of ‘starred’ games; league fixtures completed without any county representatives allowed to field. Rather surprisingly, not all managers were disappointed, potentially seeing it as the lesser of two evils, the alternative whereby the club scene grinds to a halt as the county season takes precedence.

The problem is that league titles are played and fought for, when teams have one hand tied behind their backs.

When players are developing, it is the club, the smallest and yet most significant unit of the association, that puts in all the groundwork.

When all that dedication, practice and expertise goes into making a player of inter-county standard, then he can be whipped away from his club. For some, this is a significant handicap, the sliding scale of punishment hitting the clubs that provide most players to their county the hardest.

Along with a proliferation of Development Squads, players have ample opportunity to see themselves as an elite player, only occasionally having to check in with their club. It is to their credit that this hasn’t been a bigger problem.

Attending a club game at the weekend in which both sides were shorn of their prized assets, including Fermanagh wing forward Daryl Keenan (pictured), you can draw any easy comparison with how a committed carnivore must think of a vegetable curry. There is a bit of spice, it serves its’ purpose, but there’s nothing to really get your teeth into.

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