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Joe Kernan: Close season bliss . . . with no shortage of big matches

The rash of GAA weddings over the festive period certainly underlined the fact that players prefer to tie the knot in the close season.

Just look at some of the leading Ulster players who have marched down the aisle over the course of the past fortnight — Joe McMahon (Tyrone), Michael McCann (Antrim), Stephen Kernan and Finian Moriarty (both Armagh) and Daniel McCartan and Dan Gordon (both Down).

Certainly Cupid was at work but we must conclude that the brides are very understanding.

Players are obviously reluctant to plan weddings for the middle of the year when the championship is at its peak so late December-early January now seems to be the preferred option.

But then, have things changed so much? I was married 34 years ago on December 29 — not altogether a coincidence!

Nor am I surprised that my son Stephen, who was married on New Year’s Eve and had his reception in the Carrickdale Hotel near Dundalk, is just itching to get into action with Crossmaglen Rangers against Neasden Gaels on Sunday week.

Football plays such a big part in players lives, partly because of the absolute commitment that is required and inter-county careers can be of relatively short duration.

I cannot honestly see a situation in the future where a player may be able to serve his county for, say, 15 years — the demands of the sport are much too high.

And social trends have changed. Players are marrying younger while others are living with partners, so they all have added responsibilities in life.

Still, the honour of wearing a county jersey should never be diluted — it is still a goal to which all players should aspire.

Belfast Telegraph