John Maughan demands end to 'player abuse'
John Maughan has called on the GAA to take immediate action to prevent a continuation of what he describes as "a form of player abuse," arising from the heavy demands placed on third-level students at this time of year.
"It can't be allowed go on. I would like to see Croke Park and all interested parties sitting down together, agree that what's happening is intolerable and plan a way forward, so that it's not repeated next year," said Maughan.
As a former inter-county manager with Clare, Mayo and Fermanagh and current NUI Galway coach, he is well placed to assess a college v county problem, which, he says, could be alleviated by a more streamlined fixtures structure and better communication.
"Playing some National League games pre-Christmas or bringing Sigerson forward to January would ease the pressure. I also believe that with better communication, a lot of the difficulties could be avoided. What I'm certain about is the pressure being put on some players at this type of year is outrageous," he said.
Speaking ahead of yesterday's NUIG v St.Mary's, Belfast Sigerson Cup tie, Maughan said that serious player burn-out was inevitable if the current fixtures schedule was retained.
"It has been pretty hectic for a lot of players over the last few weeks and we have lads who are playing today who will be expected to be at county training tomorrow night and play a National League game at the weekend.
"You also have a situation at this time of year where lads are supposed to be match fit for their college teams, while being asked to do endurance work and strength and conditioning as part of a senior county panel.
"On top of all that, the U-21 championships are coming down the track. Any wonder so many young players feel they're being burned out? In many cases, they are afraid to say 'no' to anybody, even if they're feeling wrecked. And then they have to find time to study," he said.
He said he wasn't apportioning blame on county managers for the problem, because they have their own pressures.
"I know exactly what it's like being a county manager at this time of year. The difficulty is caused by having so many competitions squeezed into a short space of time. County managers want their players in January so as to get them ready for the league, which is very important, while college managers want the players to get ready for Sigerson, which is a huge part of sporting life for students.
"It's a pity to see spats arise like the one last week between Jim McGuinness and Niall Moyna. Both are trying to do the best they can for their teams and that's where the frustration comes in.
"All the stakeholders need to get together and work out a more player-friendly approach because they're being abused by the current system," he said.