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27th May 2021

“He spoke to me like a robot” – A phone call with the manager can make or break a player’s career

Lee Costello

“It’s as if managers are head-wrecking eejits.”

It’s not uncommon for a manager to look at their phone to see an unhappy player’s caller ID flashing in front of them, and they know full well that when they answer the call, they’re going to be asked that same question frustrated GAA players have been asking managers for years: “Why am I not getting a game?”

Current Sligo football manager Tony McEntee has recently told the Irish Independent that he doesn’t believe in just telling a bunch of lies and false promises on the phone and simply makes it clear that if someone isn’t in his team it is because of “injury, application, attitude or ability.”

Talking on the GAA Hour, Colm Parkinson doesn’t fully agree with this method and believes that having a personal touch with your players, is an important part of management.

“I remember when I went back onto the Laois panel in 2011. I had pulled out for two years when I was in Parnell’s, and I went back, trained like mad and got in great shape under Justin McNulty,” recollected Parkinson.

“I was flat out on the weights, I was in the top one, two or three in some of the bench press and strength tests. Then in the first league game, I wasn’t on the starting team. Three subs were brought on and I wasn’t one of them.

“The second game was the same, so I thought it was fair enough to give McNulty a ring at this stage and say ‘what’s going on here, I would prefer it if you were straight with me because if I can’t get in the top six and then the next three, making me the tenth next forward at best, I’m wasting my time.’

“I don’t want to come back just to sit on the bench all year. I’m not asking to start, but if I don’t see any game time, I don’t see the point. He didn’t speak to me like a human being, he spoke to me a bit like a robot – ‘You’re on the panel like everybody else, you’re no different to anyone else’ and all of this.

“He gave me nothing and I ended up dropping off the panel. I think good managers are able to speak to players like human beings.”

Donegal legend Brendan Devenney also believes that having that personal element and ability to explain to a player individually where they’re going wrong, or the reasons behind certain selections, is an important trait to have.

“It’s that thing about knowing where you stand,” said the St Eunan’s man. “If you put your whole life into something like, I’ve heard this so many times, it’s as if managers are head-wrecking eejits.

“I heard it recently with an underage manager, just throwing out nonsense to a young boy about why he’s not making a panel and you really feel like ringing him up and going ‘there is an easier way to do this.'”

Referring to Parkinson’s particular situation with McNulty, he continued to say: “To keep you tuned in, why didn’t he say ‘I’m going to put you in the next couple of games’ – that’s what the league is for.

“Then it’s up to you to make it or break it, instead of getting up and wondering, while going to a gym at 6am before going to work.”

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