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Finally, intercounty training is allowed again - and it's not a moment too soon

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Ronan Sheehan

Ronan Sheehan

�INPHO/Lorraine OSullivan

Ronan Sheehan

Let's play make-believe.

Say you were an intercounty footballer or hurler, an intercounty ladies' footballer or a camog, and your manager tells the group that after months and months of not being allowed to meet up as a group, they have secured a nice wee secluded part of the world for a training session. Would you go?

Of course, the initial reaction is to say not a chance. But, then again, very few of us are intercounty players of any class or gender. Those that do make it become, to varying degrees, defined by that commitment.

They skip takeaway meals, family occasions and weddings. They stay tee-total at functions and they give over most of all their spare time to their pursuit. And they do it because they love it.

To have that taken away has been particularly cruel. And it has caused problems among that number.

Back in February, the Down hurling manager Ronan Sheehan, a member of the Gaelic Player's Association's National Executive Committee, spoke of a spike in demand for their counselling services.

"When you think about it, it is what we always talk about in the GPA with players," he said.

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"It's so much of what they do and what they are, being an intercounty player, that when that crutch is taken away from them, they kind of lose their way a little bit. They begin to question what the purpose of their life is, if they don't have this game, this structure and the routine, then who am I?"

Recently, it was claimed that there had not been a single case of on-pitch transmission between players in all of the Gaelic sports. That has also been the case for soccer, rugby union and league and American football.

Intercounty training started again on Monday. Thank the heavens. They have been kept in the dark long enough. There has been no acceptable excuse to keep these sportspeople sitting idly by for so long.

Here's to a great summer ahead for all of them. 


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