As adults, GAA players face numerous challenges throughout their careers --- juggling the demands of being an elite athlete with a managing a family and a career --- but minor footballers and hurlers have it pretty rough. It's when they turn 17 or 18 that the weight of the world drops firmly on their shoulders for the first time.
1) Deciding which of your 12 million training sessions you should attend on a given day
School training at 4, club hurling at 6, club football at 8. Can it be done? Which manager, if any, will give you the least grief if you sacrifice one? Probably your soccer trainer, because you've forgotten you have that at 7:30. Sure you can study at the weekend anyway - who needs a life?
2) The guilt trips
You'll only get injured in the hurling! Sure we need ya for the football on Sunday!!!
...Sure you can't keep everyone happy.
The difference at Minor level is that, usually, you'll know your marker, and he definitely knows you. But he also knows your girlfriend. He's letting you know he knows your girlfriend. Let's see if he's as brave after you rinse him for a goal and seven points from play and make it your business to bump into him in town next weekend.
4) Maintaining your relationship throughout the year
One of the greatest Minor demands of all.
5) The potential boyfriend/girlfriend upgrade at the end of championship
Stick or twist? The offers are going to come flooding in if you bring home that championship - you'll be talk of the parish. But if you end it now and crash out in the semi-finals, you're faced with the indignation of having to crawl back. A catch-65 if there ever was one.
6) Boot Controversies
The sheer abuse from trainers and selectors alike if you dare stray from the conventional black supermarket boots. And the pressure to fulfill the expectation that you're a flair player if you deviate even slightly. And don't forget to pull down those socks.
Similar to boots. Do these people not realise you have an image to protect here? There are people watching, for God's sake. There seems to be an inherent fear that a bit of gel is going to slow you down or potentially glue you to the clutches of the opposition's corner-back.
8) The Championship beard
Be it literally not having the time to shave or making a pact not to shave until you win county - and subsequently failing to produce more than some barely traceable fluff in comparison to your teammate, who must be quarter Hungarian or something - you can add your beard to the list of massive concerns during your Minor year.
9) "I can repeat my Leaving, I can't repeat my Minors."
Your after-school study takes place on the boggiest pitch in Europe. On one end, you're warned that the greatest test of your young life is approaching - and it will take every ounce of focus and heart you possess to pass this examination - which is as much about character as anything - and achieve your goals. On the other end, your parents and teachers are harping on about the Leaving Cert.
10) Missing out on Saturday nights - your only true reprieve from LC pressures
"Can't, I've a match," etc. Or if you do try and snake it:
11) Getting caught in town
The sit-down chat the following Monday. You're dropped for Sunday, and all of a sudden you're 'that guy' who 'lacks the dedication to represent this team.' The team you've dedicated your entire year to while trying to juggle seven subjects, a relationship and for the love of God, your beard.
12) To go on Leaving Cert holiday or to not go on Leaving Cert holiday
Another game of chance. You could say your cousin's getting married in Spain and shnake a week out of it, but if any incriminating images reach the team Whatsapp group (which for some reason your overly enthused manager is a part of), you'll be doing turkey runs six months before Christmas.
13) The fact that being a county Minor doesn't get you out of trouble in school, like it would in Friday Night Lights
14) Trying to decide what to do with your life on your way to a stringent fitness session
What the hell am I going to put on my CAO? And more importantly, is it fitness today? An hour later, you're green from running - fighting the urge to vomit, wind sucked from your sails and your coach is still barking like some sort of jackanape. Your mind is fuzzy as oxygen battles towards your brain, but you manage to summon once thought to yourself;
...Maybe I should have put BIS first.
15) Daniel Radcliffe glory hunting
A nuisance faced by most minor hurlers and footballers throughout the season, particularly the 2012 Dublin minors. How are you supposed to focus on a training session with Radcliffe trying to fly around on a hurley and claiming he wins the game every time he catches the sliotar? Forget blanket defensive systems and 'too much tactics' - this man is the real blight on the GAA.