Player and organisational attitude towards third-level Gaelic Football ‘worrying’, says Niall Moyna

Gavin Quinn

19 February 2016; Niall Moyna, Dublin City University manager. HE GAA Sigerson Cup, Semi-Final, University of Ulster Jordanstown v Dublin City University UUJ, Jordanstown, Co. Antrim. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Niall Moyna has expressed his concerns at the GAA’s fixture congestion and the pressure it puts on young players, especially third level players.

The DCU Senior Gaelic Football manager labelled the trend of players prioritising inter-county level in an ever congested fixture schedule as ‘worrying’ in a year that saw DCU suffer an array of setbacks in preparation for the Sigerson Cup.

Moyna’s side crashed out at the quarter-final stage at the hands of eventual winners UCD in a cagey affair, ending DCU’s year – a year that Moyna feels has been one of his most difficult in attaining the services of his players.

“This was probably the year we had least access to our senior players and it’s becoming more and more difficult and I don’t blame the players, they’ve been put in obviously very difficult positions by managers,” Moyna said.

The Sigerson Cup takes place in February primarily, just weeks after the rigorous conclusions to club championships, during inter-county pre season competitions and runs parallel with the beginning of the National Football Leagues.

Many have called for changes to the GAA calendar, from eliminating competitions or fixing them for earlier dates.

He feels that something must be done by the GAA for managers and the welfare of players – but not playing the Sigerson Cup earlier in the year.

“I laugh at people wanting to play the Sigerson Cup before Christmas,” he said.

“I mean we won’t get our players! They’re all with their clubs, they’re finishing off under 21 championship, junior, senior and then you’ve provincial (championships).

“Ask the players, the quality of Sigerson football. I’ve been at both sides of it, it’s phenomenal. What a wonderful time of your life and they’re (the GAA’s fixture congestion and inter-county demands) taking that away.”

But the future does look bright for DCU. Moyna is hopeful of returning for another year at the helm and will be boosted by a strong core of the current team available for next year and a fresh influx of All Ireland Champions Freshers.

Captain Diarmuid O’Connor, Stephen O’Brien and Shane Carthy are just some of the senior players to be lost to graduation but Moyna will hope to integrate some of the younger players into the senior panel, something that has proved difficult.

“There’s quite a lot of them there next year, it’s a relatively young team,” he stressed.

“It’s a huge step, one of the things we’re finding this year is that a lot of the players, three players decided that they didn’t want to play with us and they want to play with their county.

“It’s a little bit worrying, that has never happened before with Sigerson level and it just shows you where the inter-county scene is today and really for the future it worries me as to what role the Sigerson is going to play.”

The Monaghan native is adamant of the value of third level football, highlighting that many of the game’s top stars served an ‘apprenticeship’ in the Sigerson Cup on their way to the pinnacle of the game.

“All those players from Dublin who’ve gone on to win multiple All Irelands (played Sigerson football) and I just don’t think they (young players) realise how important it is,” he said.

Gavin Quinn

Image Credit: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile