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"If you're with the county, the county is number one" | GAA Club v County debate

All Ireland winners Shane McGrath and Darren O'Sullivan joined Off The Ball Thursday evening wher...


"If you're with the county, the county is number one" | GAA Club v County debate

All Ireland winners Shane McGrath and Darren O'Sullivan joined Off The Ball Thursday evening where the pair reflected on the difficulty of balancing club and county GAA careers.

There are proposals from the CPA to reorganise the GAA season similar to the post-lockdown situation where there is a clear divide between club and county windows in the calendar, the former Tipperary hurler is a fan.

"I think the split-season has been brilliant in my opinion," said Shane McGrath, who is enjoying just being a club player now.

"You enjoy the hurling a bit more when you are finished with the county because you don't overthink it. Everything you are doing every minute of the day is geared towards can I be the best at the weekend when you're playing for Tipp.

"Whereas when you were with the county going back club training, I honestly tried to go down there, but you just don't feel right. You were just there watching on, not really doing anything."

Draining training

The pressure to turn up for club training was a draining experience for McGrath when he was playing for Tipp.

"There might be some nights you go down and you might have a puck around or help out," recalled McGrath, "do the water or something.

"You're just not really a part of it, all you are doing is draining yourself going over there and knowing you can't really do anything.

"You're not going to take the chance of doing anything. What I find with a lot of county lads is they mightn't even go down to club training because they are so drained from all the goings-on that week.

"Drained from packing the bag five or six times, getting into the car, so going to club training could be another strain or a drain on them."

'It's county'

McGrath is very aware of the privileged position he is in to comment on the club situation, but in reality, the county took precedent when he was with Tipp.

"Some people will be going 'aw listen it's club before county," says the former Tipp midfielder. "If I'm totally honest, when you are with the county, it's county."

"To try and succeed with the county, that's the way it has to be, that's just me being honest, from someone who was lucky enough to do both.

"I love my club and I'd do anything for my club but if you're with the county, the county is number one.

"That's my point about the split season. Let the county be number one for the first half of the year and not be pulling and dragging lads between things.

"Then let lads be the best they can be for their county and then let them come back and be the best they can be for their club."

GAA club benefits

This year's GAA club championships have shown a clear benefit of the split season, according to McGrath.

"I saw it first-hand this year, the county lads were immense for their clubs and their clubs were better because they had these county lads driving them on at training.

"Take my own club, if we had two or three county guys, we're a small club. If they weren't at training, it's a different training session.

"Whereas, if you have those couple of county guys with their experience and the respect of everyone else there. If they say 'lads, we need to pick it up' training just gets better straight away because those county guys are there.

"The club championships have been brilliant because the county guys have been there. They have been involved and immersed in the tactics of the club. They have gotten to know their best friends better for hurling with them non-stop for the few months, it's been brilliant.

"For me, it's very hard when you are fully in the county to be fully involved in the club as well."

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GAA Gaa Club Championships Gaelic Football Hulring Kerry GAA Munster Championship Tipperary GAA