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MAC'S VIEW: The club game needs its top players

A big week ahead for Donegal GAA

Sports Reporter

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MAC'S VIEW: The club game needs its top players

First this week, something that has been bothering me for some time and that is the availability of county players for their clubs.
Let me first state that it is not a problem unique to just Donegal. It is an issue in most counties from what I see and hear.
It is however, an issue that needs to be addressed because as we all know, the club is the lifeblood of the game.
If you don't have a strong and vibrant club scene you won't have a strong and successful county team. Club football needs its top players.
The worrying aspect of it too in recent years is that it is now also a common problem at U-21 and minor level.
I think we all should take a leaf out of Brian Cody's book. Two years ago, Kilkenny drew the All-Ireland final with Galway. There was a two-week break between the drawn game and the replay. For the weekend in between, Cody released the players back to the clubs for a round of club games. And guess who won the final? Kilkenny!
I know managers cite the fear of picking up injuries. But a player can get injured in training.
I remember back in 1990, when I was managing Donegal, John Joe Doherty got injured in training two weeks before we played Meath in the All-Ireland semi-final.
In 1992, Martin Shovlin picked up an injury in training the Thursday night before the All-Ireland final.
Managers simply have too much power. County boards are going to have to be strong and take back control, and Croke Park is going to have to step up too and back them. Otherwise the game as a whole is going to suffer.

Big football week
This coming week is a big week for Donegal football. First up are the U-21s. They face Tyrone on Wednesday night in Omagh in a game that could define their season. And then on Saturday night, the seniors host Tyrone in the league in Ballybofey.
Jason McGee and Kieran Gillespie, two county seniors, are huge losses to the U-21s.
But we still have a good squad and we can still call on players of the calibre of Ciaran Thompson, Jamie Brennan, Michael Carroll, Stephen McBrearty, Niall O'Donnell, Stephen McMenamin, Danny Rodgers, Caolan McGonagle and Tony McCleneghan.
A win for the seniors on Saturday night and they could be on track for a league final place in a few weeks.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.