herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Sheedy: Sigerson Cup and U21 Championship in the middle of the National League? That's crazy

JACK Sheedy believes the concurrent scheduling of the National League, provincial under-21 Championships and Sigerson Cup is "crazy", and has called for "a massive rethink", with regard to the GAA's inter-county winter/spring itinerary.

The former Dublin star managed Longford to smooth and immediate promotion from Division 4 this season, just a year after dropping to the League's basement, but has decried the "bloody difficult" task of managing playing resources during such a hectic time for individuals cohabiting varsity and/or U21 panels.

"I don't see why the Sigerson has to be so important within the calendar," Sheedy told the Herald. "I think any player who has played Senior Championship within the last year shouldn't have to play Sigerson football.

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"Or certainly shouldn't be training with Sigerson teams.

"I'm not against it, because I'm a football man and I want to see guys out playing football. But they don't need to do all that training as well. Guys are doing enough training with their county teams. That's the highest level you can attain to.

"So that should be the starting point and everything else should filter down into that.

"If you're training with your county team, you don't need to train with your Sigerson team or your under-21 team or your club to the level that is being required at the moment.

"The Sigerson is put in at the wrong time," Sheedy continued.

"The middle of the National League? That's crazy. And the under-21s are being fitted in as well in the same period and you're drawing from the same pool?

"I think there has to be a massive rethink on the whole thing."

Last weekend, Meath boss Mick O'Dowd expressed similar sentiments about the League's schedule to those of Sheedy while Jim Gavin is another inter-county manager on record as being dissatisfied with the current arrangement, regularly calling for a later start to the League campaign.

"And Meath would have a reasonable pool to pick from," Sheedy pointed out. "When you go to Longford, Leitrim, Westmeath, Carlow, Offaly…places where you have a small pool to pick from, it's extremely difficult."

Sheedy lost Brian Kavanagh for three matches due to injury and Paul Barden to retirement during this year's League and was rarely able to call on many of Longford's talented under-21 team, who lost to Dublin in the Leinster semi-final.

"I don't see why the League couldn't be played starting in February and running through until May.

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"And just do home and away, regular matches and nothing else going on," Sheedy stated.

"Because everything has the feel that it's being fitted in. That seems to be the approach with everything. It's very hard.

"You accept it because there is nothing you can do about it and nobody's listening anyway," Sheedy concluded.

"That's being very blunt about it. But it's extremely difficult."

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