Rhode man Paraic Sullivan has been speaking about the issues facing Offaly and the wider GAA community again today as he gave an interview to the Irish Sun.
Extending his point from yesterday about the difference in resources between the likes of Offaly and the top teams, he said, “I just feel that unless something is done sooner rather than later, the players from the lesser teams are not going to want to play anymore. That’s where I see it going."
STRAIN ON PLAYERS
He went on to stress the level of commitment required and the disillusionment that may come from beatings like the 6-22 to 0-10 defeat to Armagh on Sunday. He took a clubmate of his, Eoin Rigney's case as an example. "Eoin is studying to be a doctor, and was playing against Armagh. Take his weekend for instance. He comes up from Limerick on Friday night, trains with the team — that’s his whole Friday gone. He spends Saturday preparing for the game, travels to Armagh on Sunday, plays in that game, back down to Tullamore and then drives down to Limerick to do a whole week of very intensive work."
“This is a guy who is 24 or 25 and you are left just wondering is it worth it and where are we going to go from here? More than anything it made me sad to think of what the lads are going through. They had to go through the whole process on Sunday night of emptying their gear bag, putting stuff in the washing machine, cleaning their boots. And then they had to take on recovery shakes on Monday morning, start eating good food again and get the process going to get right for training," Sullivan lamented.
“These are all physical things but the actual mental thing of having the drive to do all of these things — it must be sapped out of them completely," he added.
GULF IN CLASS
“For the minnows or the smaller counties you are only actually playing for your league campaign — especially the Leinster teams. In the Championship, as soon as a team comes up against the likes of Dublin you are actually fearful for the outcome. "If you were a 16-year-old or a 17-year-old or a minor playing with Offaly, why would you say ‘I want to put myself through that in five years or 10 years?'
“You are not going to want to do that. There is nothing attractive in watching your team getting absolutely hammered or being on a team that loses like that. In Leinster, if it’s not already, it will become a contest of trying to dodge Dublin over the next couple of years. A lot of lads have loyalty to their counties, to their clubs and their families — but I think they’ll just get p***ed off with the circle of events," he continued.
“I couldn’t see players committing themselves to five or 10 years of that sort of thing, especially because I think the gap is only going to get wider. I was thinking all Sunday and again Monday morning of the commute down for the players after that game and the atmosphere in the dressing room. And then these players going to work on Monday morning," Paraic remarked.
“The lads are all over Ireland with work so they were meeting people from different counties and probably getting the slagging that comes along with it. It’s not easy to take. I’d say Pat Flanagan himself is disillusioned by the whole thing.
He also spoke at the introduction of the Super 8s, but said because Offaly are out of the loop of the top eight teams, it will have zero impact on them. "They are not going to get to the quarter- finals so it’s not going to be relevant to them at all. You need to be in the last eight to really get the games and build and build.
A HIDING TO NOTHING
He continued to speak about the gulf between Dublin and the rest of the Leinster teams especially, and the negative impact that can have on player mentality. “Every year prior to the Leinster Championship draw, all of the managers in Leinster are crossing their fingers hoping they don’t get Dublin. Longford played Dublin in 2015, it was a 27-point game. They had beaten Offaly in the first round that year and what was the reward? To get an absolute trimming in Croke Park. And on TV as well," Sullivan stated.
“How do you even mentally prepare for something like that — you are training from October or November, the draw is made, you get a good Championship win and then you are sent back to the Stone Age with a defeat like that. When the season is over I can’t see anyone looking back and saying, ‘That was a positive year’ or, ‘We learned something from that.'
“How many fans are going to go in and watch Offaly playing the next day? Probably very few because they are saying ‘what’s the point?’ So if the GAA want the whole country to be involved they are going to have to do something — and sooner rather than later."
“I remember growing up in the 1990s or 2000s, nearly every team could win the All-Ireland. You were sitting at home with your family and couldn’t wait for The Sunday Game to come on. Now it’s only a couple of Championship games a year that set the world on fire."
“Mostly it’s dead-rubbers, non-events and games that nobody really remembers," he concluded.
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