Commitment is hard to find in the modern world: outgoing Antrim hurling boss Dominic McKinley
OUTGOING Antrim joint hurling boss Dominic ‘Woody’ McKinley has revealed a lack of commitment from players was the key reason why he walked away from the post.
McKinley and Terence McNaughton stepped down and effectively dissolved the four-man management team that included Gary O’Kane and Neal Peden.
The quartet stepped into the breach in the middle of the 2016 season and although Antrim suffered relegation from Division 1B in their last season in charge improvements were made.
However, McKinley felt that he was unable to bring Antrim to the next level and decided to step down.
In order to remain in the post, the former Antrim defender insisted the squad needed another six players.
“Terence and me talked about staying on and even towards the end of season we looked at how we could improve it. The biggest stumbling block was finding another six players that’s committed to bringing it forward. We couldn’t find them.
“We couldn’t guarantee that all the players we had would return either. It was tough for us to take it to the next level. People say: ‘Why do you need six more players?’
“You need them to give a competitive edge to your training and if people were messing around you can say: ‘Away you go.’
“But we hadn’t got that. If you’ve limited numbers you’ve to work with them as best you can. If you could find another six players with the commitment – maybe not the highest skill levels – we would have taken it on for another year.”
The commitment levels varied within the squad and McKinley admitted the management team were forced to bend some of their own rules to retain players.
He also suggested the general changes in society contributed to the lack of buy-in from young players.
“It’s difficult for us to accept the things that people do now. You have to accept things now that you wouldn’t have accepted 10 years ago,” he said.
“When we played you did what you were told, but nowadays there are players messing you around. We had to bend our own rules.
“Now, the players weren’t all like that because we had a good group. I enjoyed this term better than probably any other term and we had principles in place but because we hadn’t enough players it was difficult at times.”
McKinley wished to thank the county board, Tony Shivers and the Antrim players who gave the required commitment over the past couple of seasons.
He added: “Maybe we’re dinosaurs, I don’t know. You want people to care about it but society is changing. Some players nowadays are not even loyal to their clubs so how can you ask them to be loyal to the county?
“If you go to Antrim you’re playing with better players, and you’ll become a better hurler. And you wonder why people don’t grasp this; why some players don’t want to be recognised as an elite player.
“We’re maybe not as attractive as the elite counties and the work that has to be done to get up to that elite, some people are saying: ‘No, I don’t want to be involved in that. I’m not giving up my time.’
“You’re asking players to train three times per week and do their gym sessions. Those are great demands. The next generation is saying: ‘I want a good car. I want my holidays. I want to go on stag parties.’
“There are things interfering that would never have interfered in the past but they are now, big time.
“Terence, Neal and Gary felt the same – managing interferes with every minute of your day and your home life.”
McKinley also cited the perennial problem in Antrim with so few clubs supplying the county team with players.
“Over the last 40 years there are four or five clubs servicing our county teams.
“We need to change that. You look at all the successful counties and there are 13 or 14 successful clubs behind them.”
The ideal scenario, McKinley believes, is for the next manager to retain the services of Peden and O’Kane, both of whom have expressed an interest in staying involved.
Slaughtneil boss Michael McShane was nominated at last Monday night's county board meeting.
“Neal was very strong in his views about the value of GPS and the trackers. The fitness of our players improved and they got information through their phones every two or three weeks.
“Neal took it to another level and the county board invested in getting that equipment. Neal and Gary care deeply about Antrim hurling. I think it would help if they stayed involved. Maybe they can work with the new manager, maybe they can’t, but no doubt it would help.”