‘It’s abuse of players’: Colm O’Rourke hits out at Sigerson Cup timing after Meath win

O’Rourke criticises GAA over timing of Sigerson Cup and its ‘player abuse’

Allianz Football League Division 2: Meath 4-8 Clare 0-16

Another win to extend his unbeaten run as Meath manager, leaving the Royal County joint top of the Division 2 table, but there were more scowls than smiles afterwards from Colm O’Rourke.

The new Meath boss was disappointed with the overall performance and his frustration turned to genuine anger when he discussed the hamstring injuries suffered by key forwards Mathew Costello and Shane Walsh.

O’Rourke blamed both of those injuries on Sigerson Cup activity and claimed that by running the third-level championship alongside inter-county competitions, the GAA is guilty of “the ultimate in player abuse”.


Costello top scored for DCU last Tuesday evening in their Sigerson Cup win but, two days after playing against Cork in Round 1 of the National League, suffered a hamstring injury in that third-level encounter.

Walsh, fresh off hitting Cork for 1-7, played for DCU in that game too and limped out of this win over Clare after just 13 minutes with a hamstring problem.

Meath still came away with the win, courtesy of 2-2 from Donal Lenihan and further goals from Jordan Morris and Jason Scully but O’Rourke wasn’t in much of a mood for celebration.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that a fella like Mathew Costello has to come back from Cork and less than 48 hours later he is being put out in a very important game for his college,” said O’Rourke, who took off two more Sigerson players, Darragh Campion and Cathal Hickey, as a precautionary measure having played for TU Dublin in last Wednesday’s extra-time win over UCD.

“The timing of the Sigerson is all wrong. We have six players tied up in it and we had to take off five of them today. There’s two of them now injured with hamstrings. They’re pure overuse injuries. It’s a disgrace, it’s abuse of players and it shouldn’t be going on at this time.”

O’Rourke has previously claimed that the Sigerson Cup should be played before Christmas and that the National League should start later too.

“I just think it’s an absolute disgrace what is happening with these players, the best of young players, because they are so willing to give of themselves that... the GAA talk about player welfare – this is the ultimate in player abuse,” he added.

On the game itself, O’Rourke was disappointed that Meath didn’t kick on with a stronger display after scoring three goals in the first 18 minutes, and that they didn’t score more than just eight points overall.

An early Morris point from an advanced mark and Lenihan’s second goal, when he flicked home from Ronan Jones’s long ball in, suggested that they may profit more from long deliveries but they struggled for long spells to penetrate a well-marshalled Clare defence.

An injury depleted Clare, trailing 0-7 to 3-3 at half-time, got it back to a three-point game in the third quarter but coughed up a further 1-4 between the 45th and 63rd minutes, the highlight of which was Scully’s low finish for Meath’s fourth goal.

Meath: H Hogan; A O’Neill, M Flood, H O’Higgins; J O’Connor (0-1), D Keogan, C Hickey; R Jones, D McGowan (0-1); C O’Sullivan, J Scully (1-1), D Campion (0-1); J Morris (1-2, 0-1f, 0-1m), D Lenihan (2-2, 0-2f), S Walsh. Subs: D Moriarty for Walsh 13, S Crosby for O’Sullivan 38-40, blood, B Conlon for McGowan 49, Crosby for Campion 53, R Clarke for Hickey 58, S McEntee for Scully 68.

Clare: D Sexton; C Brennan, R Lanigan, M Doherty; J Malone (0-1); A Sweeney, P Lillis (0-1), C O’Dea; C O’Connor, D Bohannon (0-1); D Coughlan (0-1), E McMahon (0-5, 3f), C Downes; P Collins (0-1), G Cooney (0-3, 2f). Subs: A Griffin (0-1) for Downes h/t, D Nagle for Lanigan 38-47, blood, I Ugweru for Coughlan 49, D Walsh for Sweeney 54, M McInerney (0-2, 2f) for Cooney 61, D Keating for O’Connor 63.

Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh).