VALLEY ROVERS' Fiachra Lynch is happy this year’s county championships will replicate 2020 by splitting the inter-county and club campaigns.
Lynch, who was part of the successful 2010 All-Ireland Cork team, believes players are more focused for the club when they don't have to divide their time with inter-county commitments.
“I think the way the season went last year and the way it is going to go this year, is the way to go in the future. The way it was players playing for the county in the first half of the year and then going back and playing for their clubs when their county commitments had finished.
“Last year, we played six club games between hurling and football in eight weeks. There were relegation games in the hurling, and we got to the quarter-final of the football.
“There were a lot of games in a short space of time but having talked to people, they seem to have enjoyed it and preparing for so much games in a short period."
He can recall facing Nemo three years ago in April and not playing again until August.
"It was like playing two different seasons, which was ridiculous. The way the championship is now is more beneficial to both club and inter-county players.
“When I was playing with Cork, one weekend I would be playing with them and then the next weekend I was playing club championship having only had two or three sessions with them.
“Your focus as a player keeps switching between club and county and that can be difficult to adjust to.
“Playing inter-county takes up so much time and you don’t get to train with the club. I suppose when you are playing inter-county you sometimes feel that that is your priority, but when I retired it became all about the club.
“Now, players can play with Cork and be fully focused and when they do come back and play for their club, they won’t have any distractions.”
Lynch, who retired from the inter-county panel in 2012, had the opportunity to re-join the squad in 2017 but felt the time had passed. However, had he been asked a few years earlier, he would have jumped at it.
“I do regret finishing so early. I left for Dubai and had it in my head ‘that I’ll come back and I’ll get back in there’.
“That was probably an arrogant assumption to make. At the start of the 2017 season, Eamonn Ryan got on to me wondering would I be interested in coming back in.
“I’d just got married and was going to Australia and New Zealand. I just felt at the time that I wasn’t able to give the commitment that was needed and that my time had passed.
“Had I got a phone call a few years earlier, after coming back from Dubai, I would have jumped at the opportunity to go back playing for Cork."
He thoroughly relished the professional environment with Cork.
“You had to be ready and prepared all of the time. There was a lot of competition for places.
Everyone that plays sport would like to play at the highest level possible and I suppose playing inter-county is the highest level. Every guy on the team were pushing each other and it was up another level.
“I do think that club set-ups are a lot more professional nowadays.
“There’s video analysis and nutrition talk, and it is becoming more professional and that element of the game really interests me and seeing that interests me in getting involved in the coaching side of the game in the future.”
The Valley player recently underwent surgery for a hernia injury and with Lynch being a fully qualified physiotherapist as well as a primary school teacher, he knows the work that is needed so that he can be fully fit when championship does start.
“I’ve probably been struggling with my hernia for over a year. I did a lot of weights over the winter, but it could have been anything that caused it.
“It hasn’t been that sore, so I’ve been training away but had open surgery on it two weeks ago. Hernia injuries can be sore but also players mightn’t feel them. I only noticed it doing a deep squad but not when running or anything.
“It was my GP who diagnosed it. I’ve started back doing a bit of work on the bike now because when I’m not doing anything, I feel I’m losing my fitness.
“I started my own physiotherapy clinic in 2014 and I’m working out of the club. I’ve reduced the hours I’m doing.
“I’m go down there three evenings a week after school and sometimes could be there until nine at night.
“Obviously it hasn’t been as busy over the last year because of Covid but it is starting to pick up recently.
“I tried to be the senior team physio a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t feasible because I was training, going in after and seeing lads.
“I couldn’t focus fully on my own game because I would be busy making sure that lads were fully fit.”