GAA Digest: DCU's Niall Moyna and Donegal's Jim McGuinness spar over Martin McElhinney O’Byrne Cup
A round of this week's GAA news
DCU boss Niall Moyna and Donegal boss Jim McGuinness are at loggerheads over the availability of Martin McElhinney for the college’s O’Byrne Cup campaign.
McElhinney missed Saturday night’s semifinal win over Meath (2-8 to 0-6) in Navan, with Moyna adamant that his county boss McGuinness had banned the player from the match.
The Donegal manager has refuted those allegations in a series of interviews with the national press.
“Seemingly Meath requested the game be brought forward to Saturday night and DCU agreed,” said McGuinness.
“When Martin told me he had a game on Saturday evening, I said to him we have our first league game in two weeks and I had all the players from the other colleges back to get a look at them. I said to him, ‘How can we expect to play you if we haven’t seen you play?’
“I’ve known him going back to his days as a student in Limavady. When I took over the Donegal job Martin was recovering from major groin surgery and his fitness levels dropped. Over the last 18 months I have got the best advice for Martin and have had a strength and conditioning coach working with him one-to-one once a week.
“After investing so much time and expertise, do people think I would abuse such a player? It’s ridiculous. I’m annoyed someone would make that claim.”
McGuinness is also of the opinion that colleges shouldn’t play in the various inter-county competitions at this time of year.
“It’s pure nonsense. We weren’t the ones who switched dates -- that happened when the O’Byrne Cup semifinal was brought forward from Sunday to Saturday.
“The tail is wagging the dog in relation to the college-county scene at present, with the imbalance very much in favor of the colleges.
“The colleges have the players from October, while the county managers don’t get them until January 1. Counties are asked to play without the college players in January, which means the counties have very few days when they can get their full squad together for a national league that starts on the first week in February.”
DCU manager Moyna had claimed on Saturday, “Martin is in the middle of his examinations at the moment. I spoke to Martin this morning before we left, but I only found out at 5:15 p.m. that the management team at Donegal demanded that he go play a challenge game against Monaghan today.
“What annoys me is not so much that he had to play the game, but that it is in the middle of his examinations when we have purposefully given him time off. So he lost the whole day, went up to Clones, and turned on his ankle in the warm-up, and we didn’t have him tonight.
“He wouldn’t have played tonight for DCU if we known he had played today (for Donegal), and I think there is something wrong there. We talk about player welfare and that is abuse of players.
“I understand the pressure that inter-county managers are under, but to ask a player to go play a game the same day they knew he had a semifinal that evening and in the week that he is studying for his exams is an important issue that needs to be addressed.”
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