In this day and age can players play both football and hurling for their county? In the last few weeks three of Wexford’s brightest young stars have declared they will be duel players this year. Lee Chin, Michael O’Regan and Andrew Shore all expressed great interest in playing the “small ball” sport this year coinciding with their football duties. Wexford’s hurling manager Liam Dunne is said to be very happy about this decision yet it is still to be seen if newly appointed football coach Aidan O’Brien will be as pleased as his hurling counterpart. After talking to Liam Dunne Brian Malone opted to stay with the footballers, “with the programme given out by new manager Aidan O’Brien he did not see how he could fit in both codes.”
In previous years we have witnessed some players trying this same feat. One of the most talked about examples is the recently retired Tomás “Mossy” Quinn. There was a huge amount of pressure heaped upon Quinn when he played and he opted to pick one sport which was the football. Similarly Redmond Barry for Wexford opted for two seasons to be a duel player. The pressure on both these players told and they showed that football was their main sport.
The question must be asked, should there be such thing as a duel player? Kilkenny (albeit a special case) will never have a duel player and they are setting an example in their respective sport of hurling. Kerry also will never have a duel player. This tossing and turning between teams surely causes unrest in the camps especially if the duel players aren’t training for a certain sport but still start. This especially in a county like Wexford is in a few people’s eyes why GAA is not progressing to the standard they want.
There needs to be a decision made on this by maybe the GAA themselves or by the respective county boards. Of course you would like your best players to play each sport if they are gifted at both but there comes a time when you have to think about the other players and the duel players bodies. No doubt there will be a confrontation throughout the 12/13 season about why a duel player opted for the hurling match over a football match on a Sunday afternoon.
By Killian Murphy