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14th Jun 2023

Conor Laverty’s bold decision hopefully sets trend for county managers

Lee Costello

“People respect honesty.”

Down manager Conor Laverty has made the bold decision to allow his players who don’t make the match day squad of 18, to play for their clubs during the week.

This isn’t the norm for most county teams who are afraid of their players picking up an injury on club duty and then not being available for their county if they were needed.

The flip side to that though, is you have a quality payer of inter-county quality, who is technically too good to play for the club, but not good enough to make the county starting team, and therefor doesn’t get any football at all.

Laverty’s approach is certainly a risk vs reward situation, and they have already seen the benefits and consequences of this decision.

Conor Laverty

Ryan McEvoy was allowed to play for Kilcoo before Down’s Tailteann Cup match against Longford, but unfortunately picked up an injury which then ruled him out of the match.

However, Laverty has succeeded in keeping a much happier camp, with players feeling more satisfied with getting game time, and then being match-fit when they are called upon.

Speaking after the team’s win over Longford at the weekend, assistant manager Mickey Donnelly explained the thinking behind this process.

“Absolutely it’s a risk, but it’s a risk you have to take. People respect honesty,” he said.

Conor Laverty

“If someone was to say to you you’re not in the 18 this week, you can go and play with your club and if you play well you could get in.

“I think that’s far better than keeping lads sitting on their hands, not getting into a 26, week after week and playing no football.

“Then maybe an injury crisis comes, he gets his opportunity and he flops because he’s been so long without playing in that sort of environment.”

Hopefully this sets a new trend for other county managers who will see the benefits of keeping players happy, and clubs will only be delighted to have their main stars available for club matches.

Down will now play Cavan in the quarter finals of the Tailteann Cup.

The GAA Hour podcast covers all GAA issues, including the action, reaction and news from the weekend.


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