Tyrone's Brian Dooher: rushed pre-season has increased injury risks
Tyrone joint-manager Brian Dooher has warned that a rushed pre-season will put players at increased risk of injury.
The National Football League is set to get under way in mid-May, giving inter-county squads just four weeks preparation time from the beginning of collective training on April 19.
Double All-Ireland winning captain Dooher fears his first taste of senior management could be soured by the loss of key players being pressed into intensive training too quickly.
“The League is going to start in no time at all, and it’s very hard to bring boys back after not having a match in five months, and having that competitive training.
“That’s one thing I would have concerns about. If you get an injury in those four weeks, you’re probably gone for the League.
“It could go well, and equally it could go badly.
“We could get a couple of bad injuries with boys coming back too quickly, loading up too quick, that’s the big fear I would have.
“Because things are going to run so tight, you’re going to struggle to get them back in any sort of shape for the Championship if they get injured.
“There’s no McKenna Cup, no way to ease into football. You’re just going to hit it at a hundred miles an hour.”
Dooher and Feargal Logan will step on to the sideline for their senior management debuts in an Ulster derby next month, the first time in 18 years that a Tyrone team will take the field without Mickey Harte at the helm.
The Red Hands are due to face Donegal, Armagh and Monaghan in a condensed, regionalised Division One North NFL campaign which is guaranteed to excite typical local rivalry.
“We have an all-Ulster National League, which won’t be simple.
“We know what the Ulster Championship is like, and the National League won’t be any different.”
With just three group games, opportunities to fine-tune and develop a style of play and a stable team selection will be at a premium for the new management team.
“We would like more games, but everybody is in the same boat,” said Dooher.
“If you lose the first one, you’re under pressure right away.
“But everybody is coming at this from the same standing start.”
And it’s a case of playing catch-up, after having a well planned programme of trials cut short before Christmas.
“We had trials, and we intended to run more trials, but we never got to that stage.
“So we’re a wee bit behind from that point of view, but at least we can start working and moving forward on it.
“We would like to be in a better place coming into this, with a settled panel.”
Confirmation earlier this week that gaelic games inter-county activity has been given the go-ahead to resume has removed layers of uncertainty and speculation, and opened up the prospect of a summer of colourful and thrilling action.
“At least we have clarity now, the boys have something to work towards, and they know when they’re going to be out on the field.
“That’s the problem we have had, we haven’t known. We have been trying to keep them going on individual programmes, but it’s very hard to keep focus and get any sort of momentum.
“It’s difficult for them, but they seem to be working away. Now we have something to move on and see how we can get it going.”