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'I’d say there are loads more players up and down the country feeling the same way'

Meath’s Paddy O’Rourke on his delight at ending his inter-county career.

O'Rourke has been considering his inter-county career for some time.
O'Rourke has been considering his inter-county career for some time.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

FORMER MEATH GOALKEEPER Paddy O’Rourke says there’s a “huge upside” to not being involved with the inter-county set-up anymore and believes that many more players are enduring rather than enjoying their time with their counties.

The 28-year-old also revealed he was considering walking away from Meath as early as last summer — following defeat to Donegal — before eventually hanging up his gloves during a conversation with Royals’ boss Andy McEntee in November.

The reason for his decision is simple; the commitment levels required to play inter-county football have increased every year. O’Rourke says this leaves players isolated from family, friends and their club colleagues.

“How can you justify training five or six nights per week for eight or nine months of the year, without a realistic chance of winning anything?” O’Rourke told the AIB GAA Blog.

“I’m not the only one either. Donnacha Tobin has gone back to his club too, while Alan Douglas was so frustrated with a lack of game-time that he has since joined up with the county hurlers. I’d say there are loads more players up and down the country feeling the same way.

“Maybe four counties are exempted from that, the ones who can genuinely look their players in the eye and say there is a real chance of winning an All-Ireland title. You’ve Dublin and a couple of more that can win it, that’s it. Otherwise, there are no fluke winners, or teams even getting to the final in unexpected fashion.

“All that training and commitment for one or two big championship games, so many other players must also be hating it. I honestly couldn’t tell you what motivates the rest of them.”

O’Rourke also said he believes it will only get worse for players with the introduction of the Super 8s benefiting only the counties already in with a chance of winning silverware.

“How can a Carlow or Leitrim, for example, expect to make their way into a Super 8 group, beat a Tyrone for example, and then push on after that? They can’t.

“Maybe a secondary championship would make more sense, but once you get knocked out all you want to do is focus on your club at that point. Because pretty quickly, it’ll be October and you’ll be staring down the barrel of inter-county pre-season again. The cycle starts over.”

You can read O’Rourke’s full comments here

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