Sun breaks provide chance for winter training
The GAA winter holiday is gradually being replaced by the GAA winter training break. While several counties are holidaying abroad as a result of various successes last summer, several more have planned trips with the added purpose of attaining such success.
The Galway and Kerry football panels are on winter training breaks in Gran Canaria and Lanzarote respectively. The Donegal football panel depart for a similar break to Gran Canaria on Saturday, while the Kildare footballers head to Lanzarote on January 15th. All players were instructed to pack training gear.
Galway manager John O'Mahony was unable to travel with his team because of work commitments, but is confident his players will return in good shape after the week break. "There are several training sessions planned under trainer John Glynn and selector Stephen Joyce, so they're in good hands."
Similarly, Donegal trainer Patsy McGonagle has several training sessions planned for their trip - although with a party of 76 travelling, including wives and partners, it won't be all hard work. "It will be a mixed bag," he said, "in that we will be enjoying the break, but we've also booked some training facilities."
Kildare play their opening O'Byrne Cup tie against Westmeath in Mullingar on Sunday before heading for the sun the following Thursday. They will fulfil any outstanding fixtures under floodlights if required.
The Kerry hurling panel is holidaying on the same island as the Kerry football panel, although apparently with less emphasis on the training.
For the more successful counties the winter exodus has already begun, with All-Ireland hurling champions Kilkenny having departed for Australia on December 30th, and football champions Tyrone currently holidaying in Dubai.
Munster hurling champions Cork are due to depart to Vietnam on Thursday, while the Laois footballers, heavily beaten in the O'Byrne Cup on Sunday, head to South Africa this day week. Already touring San Francisco are the Wexford hurlers, and joining them are the Armagh footballers. Before Christmas the Roscommon footballers enjoyed a 10-day break in Thailand.
Concluding the winter sun breaks will be the 2002-2003 All Star hurling teams, which head to Phoenix, Arizona, on January 21st as part of the annual tours.