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Opinion: Football at this level is a job and players need time off

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You have to admire the O’Donoghue Cup. It just refuses to quit.

After the cancellation of last Sunday’s final due to adverse weather conditions, the season will now end for Legion and Dr Crokes today, the 15th of December.

I’ll stop short of blaming the GAA or the East Kerry Board for Storm Atiyah but it’s hard not be frustrated at this stage. Just like last year, and the year before, our footballers are not going to get a proper break before the next season kicks off again in January.

Legion actually began training for the 2019 season in December of 2018 so they’ve been on the road for 12 full months. As for Dr Crokes, due to their involvement in the 2018/19 Munster and All-Ireland Club Championships (which ran until March 17), they basically never stopped training at all.

This, to my mind, represents a major player welfare issue and I find it incredible that in this modern era of heightened sensitivity and awareness when it comes to physical and mental health, the GAA think that it’s acceptable for players to be playing and training for 12 months of the year.

EAST KERRY BOARD

Last year I spoke to a number of players about the O’Donoghue Cup and how it was being run off and, to a man, they were all quite critical of the board. Personally I would agree that the staging of our district competitions could be improved upon. Actually, I would argue that one of the competitions, the Super League, shouldn’t be staged at all.

Dr Crokes’ participation in the Munster Club Championship is often cited as the main impediment to completing the East Kerry Championship in a timely fashion. This year, the Crokes didn’t qualify. Yet here we are again, deep into December, and little has changed.

I suppose it’s easy to direct our ire at the East Kerry Board because right now it’s their competition that we’re waiting on, but that wouldn’t be right.

There’s a far bigger picture here. The current GAA schedule, at both intercounty and club level, is an absolute mess. There are simply too many competitions and the only way of fixing it is by adopting a blank canvas approach to the entire schedule. Sadly, the GAA seem to disagree.

TWEET

I put up a tweet last Sunday saying: “Legion v Dr Crokes has been called off ‘in the interest of player safety’. If the GAA really cared about player welfare there wouldn't be football in December in the first place.”

If you were to go through the likes the tweet got you’d recognise a lot of the names. Crokes players, Legion players, club players from up and down the country, current Kerry players, recently retired Kerry players; GAA stakeholders who understand the ways in which the current schedule affects the lives of footballers, because it does or has affected their lives for years.

And then you look at those who tend to take a dim view of comments like mine. It’s almost exclusively non-players; one gets the impression that many of these people would be delighted if the final of the East Kerry Championship took place on Christmas Day. Wouldn’t that be a nice tradition?

Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but is it possible that the players know what they’re talking about, seeing as how they’re the ones actually dealing with the problem year in, year out?

Looking from the outside, as officers, ex-players and supporters are, it is perhaps difficult to appreciate how hard it is to be a Gaelic footballer in 2019. It’s not a pastime.

These days, players are expected to prepare as if they were operating at a professional level. They have to adapt their diets. They have to do private gym sessions. They have to abstain from alcohol. They’re expected to put their team above all other considerations. As one coach told us, “you should be making excuses to come to training, not excuses to miss it”.

And all of these demands exist before a backdrop of fixture chaos, particularly at club level where you can go weeks and weeks without playing games, or even knowing when your next game might be.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Casual observers tend to picture your standard footballer as a young guy without a care in the world but players have girlfriends, wives, kids, full-time jobs, college commitments (often in a different county) and countless additional responsibilities that have to be managed around their other job: being a Gaelic footballer.

And make no mistake, playing football at the level that we’re talking about is not a hobby. It’s a job. For many players, it’s more important than their nine-to-five, and it has a greater impact on their mental wellbeing.

When things go to plan, sport has the power to elevate and energise. Unfortunately things don’t always go to plan and when that happens, sport also has the power to deflate and depress. The psychological strain that sport puts on players is far greater than many people realise. And this is before you factor in the physical demands, which are also intense.

When you give yourself to a sport and to a team, you really do give all of yourself. Again, it’s not a pastime. It’s a job. And a hard one at that.

Is it unreasonable to ask for some time off?

 

Pic: Séamus Healy.

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Top tips for exfoliating your skin

One of the most important steps when we are looking after our skin, face and body is exfoliation. There are many different types of exfoliators so finding the right one […]

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One of the most important steps when we are looking after our skin, face and body is exfoliation.

There are many different types of exfoliators so finding the right one is important. We don’t want to cause any unnecessary damage, especially to the face.

We must help to exfoliate the dead cells to reveal new glowing skin. As dead cells have a negative effect on the skin, it clogs pores, creates dark spots and rough skin texture, more pronounced wrinkles as well as dullness and dryness. Also, the build up of dead cells can inhibit the effectiveness of skin care products as serums and creams can’t reach the basal (lower) layer which is the active level of the skin. This layer is responsible for the growth of collagen and elastin. These molecules/cells rise up to the outer layer giving your skin plumpness. Think of them like grapes when they are youthful and hydrated. Unfortunately as we age, and if we don’t look after our skin, environmental factors such as the sun, wind, and diet can cause the collagen and elastin cells to look more like raisins. Therefore, it’s super important to exfoliate those dead cells away.

The different types you can choose from might depend on your likes or dislikes and if your skin is normal or combination. If you have dry, thin skin you must be careful to choose a suitable exfoliating product, something without grains, as they can sometimes be a little harsh. If they are dissolving grains they maybe suitable.

A great tip when exfoliating the body is to put on exfoliating mitts every time you shower. Always apply a little body lotion after every shower or bath also.

Any questions call Jill on 064 6632966.

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Budget 2023 has been announced, so what’s in it for you?

At lunchtime today (Tuesday) Budget 2023 was announced which includes an €11 billion package in what’s been described as a ‘Cost of Living Budget’. Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and […]

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At lunchtime today (Tuesday) Budget 2023 was announced which includes an €11 billion package in what’s been described as a ‘Cost of Living Budget’.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath announced a series of measures which they say will be “focused on helping individuals, families and businesses to deal with rising prices”.

It included a further €300 million in public service support measures funded from the Contingency Reserve Fund.

“We were emerging from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We now face a further economic challenge,” Minister Donoghue said.

“The government understands, and I understand, the worries which small business owners, farmers, pensioners, those who work really hard to get by, will feel. This is why the government will help, and by helping our country will overcome this challenge.”

THE BUDGET AT A GLANCE

Personal Tax Credit, Employee Credit and Earned Income Credit set to increase by €75

Standard rate band for Income Tax is to increase by €3,200 to €40,000

Increase in the second USC rate band (2 percent rate) from €21,295 to €22,920 in line with the 80 cent per hour increase in the national minimum wage recently agreed by this government

€200 electricity credits for homes over the next three billing cycles – November, January and March – (€600 in total)

Petrol/Diesel: The reduction on excise duty on fuel previously announced earlier this year to ease the cost of petrol and diesel has been further extended until February 28, 2023. Motorists will continue to pay 21 cent per litre in respect of petrol, 16 cent per litre in respect of diesel and 5.4 cent per litre in respect of Marked Gas Oil.

A €1.2 billion package of supports for businesses hit by soaring energy costs

New Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) has been set up to assist businesses with their energy costs. A monthly cap of €10,000 per trade will apply and an overall cap will apply on the total amount which a business can claim.

Excise on pack of 20 cigarettes to increase by 50 cent

Lump sum payment of €400 for Fuel Allowance recipients will be paid before Christmas

Extra lump sum for the elderly, carers, and disabled as social welfare rates go up €12

VAT: 9 percent VAT rate which is currently in place to support the tourism and hospitality sectors to remain in place until February 28, 2023

Double Child Benefit payment for all eligible parents on November 1

Christmas bonus to be paid in December, with a separate double payment in November

New rent tax credit worth €500 for 2023. This can also be claimed for 2022. This applies to those who do not get any other housing supports. Approximately 400,000 persons are expected to benefit.

Rural Ireland will get a €390 million investment for development

Newspaper: VAT on newspapers to be reduced from 9 percent to zero from January 1, 2023.

1,000 new Garda and 430 Garda staff will be provided

20% fare reduction on public transport will be extended to the end of 2023

Social Welfare

Weekly social welfare rates will be increased by €12 for working age recipients

€12 increase in weekly payments for pensioners

Working Family Payment threshold will increase by €40

€2 increase in the weekly rate for a Qualified Child

An increase in eligibility for Fuel Allowance

€500 lump sum for families availing of the Working Family Payment, a €500 lump sum for carers, a €500 cost of disability payment and a €20 increase in the domiciliary care allowance for sick children

Health

All inpatient hospital charges will be abolished, GP visit cards will be provided to those on or below the median income (340,000 additional people)

There will be a €2 increase in the weekly rate for a Qualified Child.

Drug Payment Scheme threshold will remain at the lower rate of €80 in 2023

Funding will be provided for IVF treatments

Free contraception will be available for all women aged between 16 and 30

Childcare and education

Free School Book Scheme for primary school pupils from autumn 2023

Over 660 additional mainstream teachers, over 1,190 SNAs and 680 special education teachers will be provided

The National Childcare Scheme hourly subsidy is to increase from 50c to €1.40

A €500 increase in post-graduate contribution grant for eligible families

Over 4,800 additional places on craft and consortia-led apprenticeships and 4,000 places on craft apprenticeship programmes will be supported

Housing

Funding will be made available to support 8,800 new HAP tenancies and 800 RAS tenancies

9,100 new-build social homes, 5,500 new affordable homes for sale and rent and 6,500 new social homes will be supported

Funding to deliver 37,000 home energy upgrades

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