DONEGAL manager Paddy Carr admits that the timing of the Sigerson Cup has caused him major problems as he prepares his side for an opening Allianz Football Lague clash with Kerry this weekend.
Few counties in Ireland had more players involved in the blue-riband event of third-level education football than Donegal, with 30 alone in the ATU Donegal panel and another 18 spread across the other teams competing.
“Anyone in my position will tell you the same,’’says Carr. “The overload on players at the moment is really tricky.
“Any game we’ve had, we had to rejig teams at the 11th hour through factors outside our control.
“This is the only time of the year that county teams can give young lads a chance to stake a claim to a place on the county teams.’’
Carr (above) added that switching them to the period pre-Christmas would be the logical solution to the problem.
“I think the college competitions should be played before Christmas.
“We were in a ridiculous situation where the U21 football competition in the county wasbeing played after Christmas.
“Some lads were involved in three teams there and you could have some lads heavily involved.
“There were a number of lads on the Donegal panel who were playing five games in seven days.
“Now that is not acceptable.
“Now we couldn’t play those lads as it is really too much.”
When asked if the fact that Kerry would have only five of their All-Ireland squad in Ballybofey on Sunday, was an indication of the sheer pressure of games on young players, Carr said: “The retirement age of inter-county players is coming down all the time and that is as a result of the pressure that is on them.
“The Donegal footballers are doing 24/7 in making themselves the best version possible.
“They are doing early morning gym sessions and they are in Convoy for three or four nights a week.
“There is no real downtime for them. It is very difficult for a young lad to keep all the balls in the air.”