Brendan Treanor, senior team manager at the Monaghan-based club Truagh Gaels, is part of a club with a real sense of community, despite the pressures of competition.
“When you’re born and bred in the area like the one I’m from, it’s taken for granted that you’re going to get involved,” says Brendan Treanor, manager of Truagh Gael’s senior team. “My father was heavily involved in the local club, so it was always likely that I would too.”
Thirty-four-year-old Brendan, who has been at his local Monaghan club since the age of seven, joined at a time when options were more limited for would-be players. He points out: “I only ever really played football. Hurling has been a relatively new arrival at our club – there’s only been teams here for the past 10 years, so when I started there was just football.”
As well as having a successful inter-county career which saw him line out for the Monaghan’s under-21 and minor teams, Brendan also got to play during what was a very successful period for his local club. He recalls: “We won the intermediate championship in 1995. It was a really big win because it was the club’s first championship title since the early 1970s.
“There’s nothing that really beats winning on the field of play, but the camaraderie and the social aspect of the GAA club is also really enjoyable.”
Brendan, who now manages Truagh’s senior side after having hung up his boots last year, believes that although the end of a playing career can leave a gap in players’ lives, most clubs still provide a competitive outlet for those looking to maintain their interest in the games.
“It’s probably an addiction to a certain degree,” he explains. “There’s a lot of players who go into management when they finish playing often because they would miss the buzz of being part of a competitive team especially, for example, on a big championship day. Things like that are hard to leave behind. That adrenaline rush, that buzz, that is always there on championship days, especially at successful clubs, can be very hard to find a substitute for.”
But despite the positives inherent in friendly competition, Brendan feels that there are signs that the desire to win is beginning to outweigh other more fundamental aspects of what the games are about: “I’ve found that even at club level, the amount of effort, energy and time that has to come from everyone involved, management and players, is increasing every year.”
He continues: “To a certain degree I think this is starting to effect people’s enjoyment of the game. There is continuous pressure to get results that it can take away from the enjoyment of the sports. I’m not sure how you would counteract that – everyone wants to be successful, and to be successful you have to be willing to do as much as the opposition, so if they’re playing two or three times a week then you have to as well.
“People have come to accept this at county level, but it is in danger of becoming the norm at quite a few clubs where trainers and players are really pushing themselves. It’s fine for successful clubs but for those who finish the season without any silverware, with nothing to show for an immense amount of effort, it can be damaging. It’s difficult to maintain the level of commitment the following season if you’ve finished up empty-handed. Player fatigue seems to be a buzzword at the moment.”
Yet even with the increase in pressure to obtain results, Brendan still very much enjoys his work with the club he first lined out for as a child: “I take training twice a week, which can mean you’re out for two-and-a-half or three hours a go, and a lot of other time is spent on phone calls, checking with physios, matches etc, but I enjoy the camaraderie. The social aspect is very enjoyable and there’s a real sense of community at the club.”
Truagh Gaels, whose senior team won its last game against fellow Monaghan side Corduff, is holding its own against the challenge of other sports, but Brendan feels it’s something no club can really afford to ignore.
“No club is immune to pressure from other sports but it’s not as bad in rural areas like our own as it is in towns,” he says. “That pressure is still there, coming mainly from soccer, but at the moment we’re doing well in terms of attracting and keeping players.”