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Naomh Eanna boss Frank Fitzsimons conscious of mid-season fatigue

Frank Fitzsimons guided St Enda's, Glengormley to the All-Ireland IFC final back in February.
Picture: Seamus Loughran

ST ENDA’S, Glengormley manager Frank Fitzsimons doesn’t see any point to the club-only month of April and is keeping a keen eye on the workloads of his players following their remarkable run to the All-Ireland Intermediate club final back in February.

The Hightown Road men returned to competitive action with a fine four-point win over county champions Erin’s Own, Cargin and lost to St Gall’s at Milltown on Wednesday night in their second Division One clash of the new campaign.

James McAuley, Odhran Eastwood and Eoin Nagle rejoined the Antrim set-up soon after their All-Ireland final defeat to Kilcummin at Croke Park, while Peter Healy and Kristian Healy decided not to return to county duty.

“That [fatigue] would be a concern as the season goes on,” said Fitzsimons.

“A few of them went straight back into the county set-up. Some of them were training nearly five nights a week. Sooner or later they're going to need a break: the likes of James McAuley and Odhran Eastwood. We’ll be watching how they get on.”

While April has been cordoned off for club action only, players still have their training commitments with their inter-county teams.

“I don’t see the point of the club-only month,” said Fitzsimons, who spent three seasons as Antrim senior manager, two of which were with Gearoid Adams.

“What if you’re playing Championship at the start of May? What good is that? I just think things are thrown out there and not a lot of thought is put into them.”

St Enda’s have started the new season without injured dual player Joe Maskey but still has been able to call upon Killian Jennings and the ageless Philly Curran who will also play for the hurlers under new manager Terence McNaughton.

“You can manage to play the two codes,” Fitzsimons insisted.

“The problem is there is too much training in a lot of cases. That’s what kills players. I think it’s so simple to organise. The only people that complicate is management. It should be taken out of players’ hands.”

It was anticipated Curran (35) would concentrate on the hurlers in 2019 but judging by his fitness and form against Cargin last week, Fitzsimons is delighted to have him available.

“Philly is still playing away and had a good game against Cargin. Philly is a good senior club footballer who still has a lot to offer. As I keep saying, you’re a long time standing on the sideline.

“Big Joe Maskey is hurt at the minute, so is Kristian Healy. He’s a groin problem and needs rest to recuperate properly.”

They may have claimed county and provincial honours last year and held their own in Division One – but Fitzsimons says preserving their Division One status is their main priority.

“It’s massive for any team to want to be in the top division. This is our second season in it so we’re only finding our way and if you manage to stay in it you can then concentrate on [the senior] championship. But our priority is Division One.”

And following their high-profile wins in Antrim and Ulster, as well as their All-Ireland IFC semi-final win over Spiddal, beating St Enda’s will be a bit of a scalp in Division One this season.

“For years teams would have wanted to beat the likes of St Gall’s and Cargin, and that’s still the case. Okay, people will say it was intermediate that St Enda’s were playing last season but getting an Ulster title makes a big difference. So I’d imagine a lot of teams would want to get a win over us. And why not?”

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