GAA Football

Former Down boss James McCartan unhappy at others' training breaches

Former Down senior football manager - and current minor boss - James McCartan Jr says other counties are breaching the collective training ban.
Pic Philip Walsh.
Paul Keane

FORMER Down senior football manager James McCartan Jr has claimed that some 'senior inter-county teams' are still training despite the threat of sanctions from the GAA.

The two-time All-Ireland winner and 2010 final boss has insisted his native Mourne County under Paddy Tally aren't training collectively or meeting.

But the ex-attacker said it's frustrating that others clearly are even though they're not permitted or insured to do so for another six weeks.

Speaking to Tomas O Se on the final episode of his Comhra Le Tomas podcast series, current Down minor manager McCartan claimed it's not a 'level playing field' right now.

"If we don't get access to the players we still have five or six weeks before the championship," said McCartan. "I'm fine with that as long as every other county is sticking to the same rules. Like, I can tell you now of senior inter-county teams that I know that are training so it's frustrating.

"If you were Paddy Tally, the Down senior manager, and you were hearing that another county that you were due to play in the Ulster championship were training away, you certainly would be frustrated by that, so just as long as it's the same rule for everyone.

"If they're allowed to meet up one night a week, that's fine. If they're not allowed to meet up until the 14th of September just be sure everyone is doing the same thing, that is the way I would look at it. Make it a level playing field."

The GAA initially hoped their training ban guidelines would be self policing though then upped the ante with a threat of punishment and sanctions.

County officials were informed that guidelines must be obeyed or punishment will follow and clubs were subsequently 'encouraged to submit a formal complaint to Croke Park' if they're not happy.

The Club Players Association has gone a step further and claimed the GAA should ban teams that train illegally until 2021 and suspend managers for 24 weeks.

McCartan didn't identify rule breakers but said he knows for certain that Tally's Down seniors aren't meeting collectively.

"I know Down certainly aren't anyway, I can only speak for Down and I know that they are certainly not doing anything at all," he said. "They were sent home with GPS (units) and they're doing stuff remotely or whatever. Look, they're playing a club game once a week and they're training two or three times with the club. If you were to load up another session, you're asking for injury problems. The club is preparing for championship, the boys will be doing plenty of training, that's the way I'd look at it."

Gaelic Players Association head Paul Flynn claimed last week that 'players should be allowed to return to county activity once they complete their club'.

McCartan said he'd favour that scenario too, particularly where his Down minors are concerned.

"If there's somebody that gets knocked out very early in the championship and that's four or five weeks before we're due to join up, I could see a problem there," he said. "Once a player's out of the (club) championship, you should be able to take them under your wing to make sure that they're getting some sort of training because if you're knocked out in the first round of the championship and then it's five or six weeks before you're due to meet up with your county team, it's five or six weeks with no training. I can see an issue there."

McCartan also reflected on his Down team's one-point All-Ireland final loss to Cork in 2010.

"There are things along the line that if I was to do it all again, I would do differently," he said. "Cork maybe changed their two midfielders at half-time and we didn't make any changes around the middle so they had two fresh men coming in.

"If I had to do it all over again, yeah, there are things I would do differently but it was a brilliant run, a brilliant year for us, some brilliant results, particularly against Kerry.

"Obviously you were missing a couple of key men, yourself (O Se) and Paul Galvin but I think we were good value on the day for that win and had another great day in Croke Park against Kildare."

* Down minor manager and former senior star James McCartan was speaking on Tomas O Se's weekly live stream podcast Comhra Le Tomas which is powered by Benetti Menswear. The full interview can be accessed on Tomas' YouTube channel or through his Twitter handle @tomas5ky

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GAA Football