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McGrath believes healthy balance between club and county duty will benefit Erne men


Teamwork: Fermanagh boss Peter McGrath says he has a strong backroom
team which is a great help to him

Teamwork: Fermanagh boss Peter McGrath says he has a strong backroom team which is a great help to him

Teamwork: Fermanagh boss Peter McGrath says he has a strong backroom team which is a great help to him

Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath has been able to include doubtful duo Che Cullen, and captain Eoin Donnelly for tomorrow's Championship opener against Antrim.

The two had sustained injuries during a weekend when club games were staged on a Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, leading McGrath to bemoan the two-tier structure of the GAA in trying to accommodate club fixtures while Championship preparations were in full swing.

"As far as we're concerned, once the club season started after the National League, we did tailor the training to take into account the fact that they were playing club football," explained McGrath.

"There was only one double round of fixtures, and the weeks they were playing club football, the training was tailored to ensure there wasn't going to be fatigue or overload or too much being asked of the players."

He continued, "It's just the way the GAA is. These players are committed to their club and their county.

"There probably isn't any other major sport in the world where players are asked to play for two different teams at quite a high level at the same time.

"But that's what the GAA is, it's club and it's county. You have to try and, as far as you can, balance the two in terms of what you ask players to do. In Fermanagh this year, like last year, there's been a good balance in letting them play club football without overloading the players or damaging the county team's prospects."

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Last year Fermanagh had an unfortunate weekend when the players were released to their clubs and around a dozen came back from knocks.

McGrath revealed that players and management have used that example as a learning experience in keeping proper care of themselves.

"Last year, players maybe went back to club football and in some cases they weren't doing the proper warm-up, and in some cases they weren't doing the proper cool down," he said.

"Warming up and cooling down is such an important thing now. It's only the more you learn about it you realise how important it is.

"Players go back to club football and they maybe don't have that much time; they're getting in from work straight to their club. Maybe it was due to that to an extent last year. Players maybe hadn't time to do the normal warm-up or cool down, and that did mean a lot of them came back saying 'this is tight' or 'that's tight'. We dealt with that."

The Down man also hailed the impact of ex-county star Simon Bradley, who was added to the coaching ticket over the winter.

"Simon's only joined this year. He takes certain parts of the training at times. I've come to recognise that Simon knows these players, and his football.

"He's got, in my view, a very sharp football mind. He's not going to ram his views down your throat, but he will express in a quiet but direct way what he might think about certain selections or strategies."

He extended that praise to other members of the coaching staff; selector Raymond Johnston, strength and conditioning expert Leon Carters and trainer Brian Treacy.

"I'm blessed with those four men. They are Fermanagh men, and know their football. They challenge me and I challenge them. Someone who agrees with you all the time is no good to you."

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