Westmeath's new football manager Paul Bealin says that his preparations for life in Division 1 is being hampered by the hectic fixture schedule facing many of his young squad.
Bealin will be without up to a dozen of his squad for the O'Byrne Cup due to it coinciding with the height of the colleges football season and the U21 championship.
Speaking this week, the former Dublin midfielder says that ultimately it is the players that will suffer the most.
“They talk about player burn out and closing the season, then they put six to eight weeks when players in that particular age bracket, 18 to 22, are playing highly intensive football.
“Then you’re coming into March/April, when you should be getting hungry and fit, and the ground gets harder, and you kick on into the season. But lads are tired then, so it’s a huge challenge.
“They (college competitions) should be played pre-Christmas, because there’s just too much going on."
Westmeath's O'Byrne Cup campaign begins on January 5 when all Ireland champions Dublin come to Cusack Park. He says that preparations for the season ahead are being undermined by the restricted availability of many of his squad.
“Of course we could do without it. You want your squad together to prepare for the league. Because we’re in division one, you want them all playing to a system.
“You’re not going to get them until the second or third week of January.
“While I understand universities are important and scholarships are important to the players, any manager coming in for the first time wants to have his whole squad together so he can play systems, and train and coach them
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