There's been much talk about the demands on GAA players in recent months. The formation of the Club Players' Association has given a voice to the club player, who it is generally acknowledged has been left fairly hanging due to the uncertainties around club fixtures in most counties. This brought club players into the debate that has surrounded their inter-county counterparts for some time now: whether or not there are excessive demands on these amateur sportspeople. The now-infamous St Brigid's player contract only served to further such discussions.
Eddie Brennan knows all about the commitment required to succeed at inter-county level, having won eight All-Irelands and four All Stars with Kilkenny. And in his column on aib.ie last week (the whole thing is well worth a read, by the way), he gave a fairly entertaining take on the whole topic, addressing the St Brigid's contract:
The St Brigid’s letter is confirmation of what has being going on at county level for eight to ten years, so I wasn't too shocked by it. Dictating to adults what they should and shouldn't do! And then to be completely hypocritical, it mentions the words fun and enjoyment. The European Convention of Human Rights allows for individuals to be individuals; it's the club who facilitates this type of Hitler-style management that I blame.
We assume Eddie is referring to Article 5 of said Convention, regarding the right to "liberty and security of person", though there are a few other provisions in there that may well have been infringed over the years (if tales of Jim McGuinness' training sessions with Donegal are anything to go by).
But it was the next paragraph that most caught the eye (and which was initially brought to our attention when tweeted out by John Fogarty of the Irish Examiner).
A friend of mine who was drafted into the Kildare senior football squad a few years ago told me of weekend training camps where your car keys were surrendered on a Friday evening and not returned until Sunday afternoon. He had a wife and kids living 15 minutes away. I would simply refuse point-blank to comply, not if I never wore a county jersey again. And I'm sure there's many more episodes like that.
One can only imagine what was going through the mind of said footballer's wife when he was explaining why he'd be heading off for a long weekend with the lads just a few miles down the road. It may well have been that he was happy enough to stay there all weekend once he'd finished explaining the scenario to her.