Joe Sheridan has spoken out. James Crombie/INPHO
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'Lads are nearly detesting playing inter-county football'

In an honest and wide-ranging interview, former Meath footballer Joe Sheridan has voiced his concern for the state of the game.

FORMER MEATH FOOTBALLER Joe Sheridan has voiced his opinion on the state of the inter-county game and his concern for football going forward.

In a wide-ranging interview on LMFM’s Sunday Sport, the Seneschalstown clubman mapped his Meath career, which he brought to a close in December.

Last year, Sheridan returned to the Royal panel in a surprise twist as goalkeeper but has departed once again due to personal commitments.

With plenty of conversation of late about players opting out of panels and the fact that the inter-county game may be at a crossroads, Sheridan agreed with the concern.

“I am because of the commitment,” he told the programme.

“Lads are nearly detesting playing inter-county football. It might be a strong word but you’re playing and training the whole time, you’re taking a lot of time out of your own life. It’s coming to a point where you’re saying, ‘Do I really want to do it?’

“When you’re with Kerry, Dublin, the top teams who are going to compete and be successful and win a couple of All-Irelands, even if you’re competing at provincial level and you’ve a chance of winning, you’re going to stay.

“It’s hard for the lower teams who play every single year and are beaten in the championship. They’ve 30-35 lads doing nearly the exact same training as the other teams and getting very little out of it.

“Then you’re training with very few games — eight in the League, maybe two in the championship and you’re training for six, seven months of the year, minimum.

Joe Sheridan In action in 2013. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

The ratio of games to training is scandalous. I’d be an advocate of playing so many more championship games.”

In terms of the future of the game, the 2010 Leinster senior winner admitted that he is unsure what will happen but stressed the need for more championship games. He added that he disagrees with the often-discussed tiered football championship format.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the inter-county scene,” he conceded.

“Even the likes of the O’Byrne Cup starting in December and running into the League at the end of January, I know they’re trying to condense the season to a tighter regime but the championship is where it’s at. The more championship games you can play (the better).

“I’m against it (tiered championship) to a certain point. Football comes in cycles. Dublin back in ’95, they disappeared for a number of years but now they’ve come again. Meath are the same, Cork, Kerry are the same, it will come in cycles.

“If you ask all the players, say one that plays for Wicklow or Carlow, ‘Do you want to compete with the best teams and try and beat them once every 10 years?’ They’ll say yes every single time.”

In the 38-minute conversation, Sheridan spoke about how tough it was being dropped from the Meath panel in 2013 by Mick O’Dowd, his return as a goalkeeper and how he still gets slagged for being the ‘lad that threw the ball in the back of the net’ in 2010.

He also spoke about how the game has changed since he started out in 2002, and how in 2007 he left the panel of his own accord at the age of 23.

“When I started off, no lad would ever leave the Meath squad. It was unheard of. If you bought in, the only reason you left was if you were dropped. These days, lads have different commitments. That’s just the way life has gone.

Joe Sheridan scores a controversial goal in injury time That infamous goal in 2010. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

“The world is a lot smaller, lads travel for college, for work. You can’t begrudge a lad for going and doing these things because they have to look at their life experiences and life outside of football.

“When we started off, we probably got caught up in the bubble. For me, that was a downfall, I probably concentrated on football too much rather than my own career and stuff outside of football. But look, I’d never regret a minute I was in there.”

And of his own decision to leave the panel, he said it was something he had to do and noted that he had to put himself first for once.

“I wasn’t in good form regarding my own footballing side of things,” he concluded.

“To be honest, I just dreaded going to training. I didn’t want to be there, I had no drive to be there. It was one of the worst runs of form that I’d had.

“I said ‘Look, I’m not going to drag myself through this just to play football. I have to think of myself and enjoyment of my own life.’”

You can listen to the full interview here:

LMFM Radio / SoundCloud

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