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Tom McKay fires warning out to county managers

By John Campbell

One of Ulster's longest-serving officials is urging county team managers to adopt a more flexible approach to the training programmes of individual players.

Tom McKay has been Crossmaglen Rangers PRO for the past 20 years and has been associated with the club for almost 50 years having previously served as secretary of Newry Shamrocks. He believes that good players are being lost to the inter-county scene because of intensely rigorous training demands.

"Two of our own club players Paul McKeown and Kyle Carragher have just withdrawn from the Armagh panel while Benny Coulter is a big loss to Down and when you think that Fermanagh and Tyrone have also lost players who I believe could still do a job for them, it certainly makes you wonder," states McKay.

The long-serving administrator, who enthusiastically hails the appointment of Joe Kernan as the new Rangers chairman, is adamant that Tyrone boss Mickey Harte is showing the way with his plans to 'tailor' veteran Joe McMahon's training regime.

"I think that counties like Armagh and Down could learn from this," points out McKay, "While I fully appreciate that team benefits will generally only accrue from dedicated squad training, I think that in modern society the needs of individual players need to be taken on board in the light of the onerous demands made on them in an inter-county context."

Meanwhile, Ciaran McLaughlin, one of Tyrone's delegates to the Ulster Council and until last week chairman of the county board, has flashed a warning to all clubs in the province in relation to ongoing public sector cuts.

McLaughlin, who has led Tyrone by splendid example for the past five years, makes the point that this will impact adversely on the payment of grants and suggests that that the pace of development within the GAA could slow somewhat.

While McLaughlin hails current cub facilities in Tyrone as "exceptional" he believes it will be in the interests of clubs everywhere to tread cautiously going forward.

"While the facilities we have across Tyrone are exceptional, the fact that grant payments may now not be so readily forthcoming will be of concern to those clubs which have already planned or are planning developments," states McLaughlin.

One of the most successful Tyrone clubs in terms of upgrading their facilities and achieving progress across the board is Loughmacrory.

And now this homely outfit just a few miles from Omagh plans to share in its formula for progress when it hosts a seminar early next month at which other clubs will have an opportunity to learn from their experience.

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