All-Ireland champions Dublin have not been training together insists stalwart Philly McMahon
TWO-TIME Allstar Philly McMahon insists All-Ireland kingpins Dublin have not begun collective training, and fears there could be a spate of injuries once the inter-county season finally gets under way in October.
Having originally intended not to sanction any counties found to have been training collectively, or in pods, before the agreed September 14 date, the GAA last week decided to take a harder line on the issue - including the threat of possible expulsion from the All-Ireland Championship.
Anecdotal evidence suggesting some counties had already commenced training is believed to have swayed the Association’s top brass into a U-turn, but McMahon says the reigning All-Ireland champions are not one of them.
“No - we’re back with our clubs now so we haven’t been training at all,” said the 32-year-old, whose Dublin championship campaign with Ballymun Kickham’s begins on July 25 against Skerries Harps.
“We’ve still got nearly two months to go, it’s a long, long way to be training together. We definitely haven’t been back. For us, if you’re training at a decent level with your club, you don’t need to go back too soon with the county.
“You don’t want to burn yourself out either.”
How players reintegrate into potentially heavy playing schedules after such a long lay-off as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has been one of the major talking points ahead of the return to play later this month.
When the Bundesliga season resumed in May, there was a surge in soft tissue and muscle injuries in the opening weeks.
And McMahon fears an increase in injuries as the start of the inter-county campaign nears, with players keen to stake their claims for a starting spot
“I have no doubt that every inter-county team will be picking up injuries,” said the seven-time All-Ireland winner.
“Lads just over-training, trying to stay ahead of their opponents or their team-mates, or the fear of not being at a certain level when they get back.
“That’s going to happen, I guarantee it.”
When Dessie Farrell’s Dubs do restart their season, playing out their final two National League games against Meath (home) and Galway (away) before heading into Championship action against Westmeath on November 7/8, they will do so without wing-back Jack McCaffrey.
The flying doctor has opted to take a break from football as the Dubs go in search of a sixth All-Ireland title in-a-row – and McMahon says the 26-year-old is still young enough to resume his inter-county career further down the line.
“It depends on your circumstances. For me, after getting dropped in 2009, I wanted to play every minute of football that I possibly could with Dublin, for as long as I possibly could.
“You have to respect that Jack wants to take a break. He’s very young still so even if he took a year off and came back next year, he’d still have a huge amount to give to any squad.
“If it was later in his career, maybe things would be different, but he’s dead right. If he feels there’s things he needs to focus on outside of sport, whatever that is, that means football is obviously consuming too much of his life.”