'No enticement' for preseason competitions - Lee Keegan
If it's wintertime in the GAA, that must mean we're about to have the annual debate around preseason competitions with their seemingly inevitable demise as hot a Christmas topic as ever.
The Gaelic Players Association have stressed their preference for the scrapping of the traditional provincial curtain-raising January fare - O'Byrne, McGrath, McKenna and FBD Cups in football, as well as the Walsh Cup and Munster Hurling League - pointing to the load already heaped on overworked inter-county players in the condensed split season.
However, any assumption that a couple of scrapped fixtures early in the New Year will prove the prized solution for tired limbs might show a naïve lack of understanding of the GAA’s love for training sessions and challenge matches in far-flung destinations.
"For me, the training load was a bit different to what they do now," said former Galway star Ciaran Fitzgerald, in conversation with RTÉ Sport’s Damian Lawlor. "Preseason games were used to get in to tune for the first National League game. Now there’s so many competitions, there’s so many games. It’s an awful lot of games to cram into a short period of time.
"The only thing is, if the preseason games do go, that void will still be there. We’d be totally naïve to think that managers and players are not going to travelling the length and breadth of the country playing challenge matches.
"Going up to Dublin on a bus from Galway to play a challenge match, it can be as mentally fatiguing if anything. Fringe players get a great opportunity in preseason games. If there isn’t those games, maybe they don’t get that opportunity.
"I can totally understand the training load and the amount of games being played. The timescale, the National League running into