Off The Record by Oisin McConville

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

I WATCHED Armagh v Down in the McKenna Cup on Wednesday and whilst Kieran McGeeney's side edged it, I'd have to temper that by saying that you don't read too much into early season games.

Managers will just be looking to get players game time because you can be gym fit but the only thing that matters is how you perform when you get on to the pitch, so, I don't think Down will be too perturbed by the fact that they were beaten and I don't think Armagh will be getting too carried away by the fact that they won.

I have to say, however, watching the game, Niall Rowland played well. He'd a very good league campaign last year but didn't feature too much in the Championship, so he's probably someone who wants to kick on and get an opportunity because he was a good Minor in 2009.

I think he's someone who's capable of stepping up and having an impact. It was good to get that game under their belt, because who knows, if the weather turns there might be no more fixtures left in January?

I hasten to add that I hate Gaelic being played on artificial/ 4G pitches, but they may be the future if we're going to continue with the McKenna Cup and these pre-season tournaments. I said about six or seven years ago that I think it's played it's part, I think what should be happening now is that there should be enough of a break that lads come back to train in the middle of January and it should then be moving straight into the league.

Everyone's playing football for most of the year and it's just too much now, so I don't think there's a need for pre-season tournaments any more. The other thing is, we spend the majority of the year training and if you watch the amount of training sessions teams have during the summer months instead of playing games yet now, in January, in sub-zero conditions we're trying to pack in as many games as possible.

The Ulster and Leinster Councils must be thinking with games being called off over the weekend whether it's viable to be having games on a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to fit this competition in.

To me, it's screams of complete madness when you consider players welfare. On the games being cancelled at the weekend in Burren and the Athletic Grounds, I'd have to ask where was the consideration for the supporters?

I do understand that you want to give it as much time as possible, but if you'd inspected the Athletic Grounds on Sunday morning and it was frozen, the chances of it being defrosted at 2pm is virtually zero, because the temperatures weren't rising on Sunday.

Much as you'd want to carry on with the game, sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say 'It's not happening, this game has to be called off,' no matter how tight the schedule is, as does it really matter if the McKenna Cup is finished or not?

Who really cares about it apart from Tyrone?

There are other teams who treat it like it should be treated, they give their new players a bit of a run out. Anybody who was out on Sunday morning knew that it was as cold a day as there's been all Winter and that it wasn't going to improve.


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