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.”
Former Mayo boss John O’Mahony believes the time is right for the GAA to pay managers after a Croke Park report designed to promote debate on the issue.
GAA director general Paraic Duffy urged the association to tackle the issue of payment to managers and coaches head on after the publication of his discussion document.
O’Mahony, who won two All-Irelands with Mayo, is in favor of the third option in Duffy’s report which allows for inter-county bosses to receive regulated payments.
“The motivation of nearly all managers is the desire to win and be successful -- not to make money,” said O’Mahony, who is now a politician for Mayo, in The Irish Times.
“Why not legitimize payments to managers and bring transparency to it? I would be in favor of that.
“There’s not too many millionaires from managing inter-county teams. I’ve heard it said about particular managers that they’re very mercenary but I haven’t met one who’d swap an All-Ireland for hundreds of thousands.”
Meanwhile, Dublin manager Pat Gilroy is adamant that he would not take on the Dublin job in a full time capacity if the offer was made by his County Board.
“If someone said, ‘You’ve to give up your job to do football’ I wouldn’t put my hat in the ring for it. My career is important to me -- this is my pastime and what I enjoy doing. If it was my job, it wouldn’t seem the same for me,” he told the Irish Independent.
“I could totally understand guys in different counties thinking differently -- we don’t have big distances to travel in Dublin, but personally the whole thing suits me as it is.
“I think it would be healthy to have a very open debate about it because it seems to be a thing that is talked about in dark corners.”
Galway boss Alan Mulholland is to cut his squad ahead of the National Football League after trying out new players in the Connacht FBD League.
“We wanted to give the young lads a chance to see who is good enough at this level, and the lads we have brought in have done well and shown they are up to it,” said Mulholland after Sunday’s win over Sligo.
“What we are trying to do now is get down to the 30 or 35 players we are going to carry for the Allianz League, and we will do that in the next week to 10 days. Finalizing the panel will be very difficult. The problem you have is with the lads that are not under-21 anymore. There is no safety net for them.
“If we don’t carry them into the League panel then they go back to their clubs and, with all respect to the clubs, the training they will be doing would not be as intense as we will be doing at inter-county level.
“Those are the real heartbreaking decisions for me, and how to keep them involved when they are not going to be playing regular games with us is the real challenge.”
The GAA is to investigate disgraceful scenes at the All-Ireland junior club semifinal in Portlaoise on Sunday when Tyrone’s Derrytresk defeated Kerry side Dromid Pearses.
A brawl erupted just before halftime while Dromid’s Kerry star Declan O’Sullivan was struck by a handbag amidst ugly scenes at the end of the game.
Dromid selector and Kerry county board officer Diarmuid O Se has complained about a lack of security for players and called on the GAA to investigate using video evidence.
O'Se said, “While Derrytresk beat us comprehensively on the day, I thought that some of the scenes out there were some of the most disgraceful I have ever witnessed at a football game.
“I cannot understand how the GAA can allow this to happen. There was no security there today for our players.”
Derrytresk are due to face Clonbur of Galway in the JFC Final on 12 February.
Ready to Return
Injured Kildare duo Dermot Earley and Hugh Lynch should be ready to return to the county squad in two months.
“They are going well at the minute, probably the best-case scenario is around March some time,” said Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney after his team beat Dublin in the O’Byrne Cup semifinal on Sunday.
The win marked McGeeney’s first victory over the Dubs, but he refused to dwell on it.
“It seemed to be more important for the media than it was for me. For the players at this time of the year the big thing is to stake a claim to a place against Tyrone for the first round of the NFL and try to keep it,” he added.
Kildare have turned down a request from college side DCU to play the O’Byrne Cup final as a midweek fixture and insist it will go ahead on Sunday as planned.
Tipp Top Shape
Tipperary hurling boss Declan Ryan was more than pleased with his team’s progress after they beat Limerick IT in the preliminary round of the Waterford Crystal Cup on Sunday.
“We have to be pleased with the victory and the manner in which we went about it,” said Ryan.
“We are a lot more advanced this time round than we were last year and I supposed that showed out there too. We have a few new lads out there at the moment and we are giving them a chance because they have shown up well in training.”
Meanwhile, Tipp’s footballers will meet Cork in the McGrath Cup final on Sunday after beating UCC in the semi-final in Clonmel on Sunday.
Tipp boss John Evans said, “We will welcome Cork and they don’t need anybody to tell them how good they are. They are at the start of the year, the same as ourselves, and at least we will be playing somebody that is at the same level of fitness.
“It is a big challenge but we set a target of trying to get to the McGrath Cup final.”