Gaelic Athletic Whinge Association
Last autumn clubs were playing weekend in, weekend out in efforts to complete club championships before the start of the Provincial Club Championships. Each of the Mayo Senior Football finalists had, at some stage of their campaigns, to play three matches in eight days. This happened when drawn matches had to be replayed at midweek because the winners had to play in the next round or the following Sunday.
Some third-level students had to play matches on successive days — in the county where their college was based and in their home county. Yet, there was not a titter in the media about player welfare or burnout. Contrast this with the hullabaloo that broke out when the pampered, supposedly super-fit county hurling teams were recently required to fulfil championship fixtures on four successive weekends. The media promptly got in on the player welfare angle. So did certain GAA officials and team managers. Yet, we regularly read that county squads never stop training. Some players have admitted to training on Christmas day. Other panels train twice daily, at 6am and in the evening. Former Clare hurler Jackie O’Gorman told PM O’Sullivan in last Saturday’s
Irish Examiner: “That time when you went playing hurling it was to get away from work. Now the current lads nearly go to work to get away from hurling! The present player’s life is consumed by it now.” O’Gorman continued: “I don’t think a full-time farmer or a tradesman could be a hurler now. Where would he find the time to do the training? Instead, you can go off to work for the day. It’s grand “no gym, no weights, no nutrition breaks … It’s nearly a break.”
This is a shocking indictment of the current training regime and also begs the question: How many millions of euro are annually spent by county boards in training players who cannot, according to some self-elected experts, be expected to play a match on four successive weekends? Remember, rugby and soccer players have been playing weekly, over long seasons, for generations. Open the sports pages of the Irish Examiner any Monday morning from October to late April and you will find a round-up of junior rugby in Munster, your main circulation area. The same names keep cropping up — Clonmel and Richmond are two that come to mind — and there are no moans from the players involved.
If the bloated county GAA team managements, packed, we are led to believe, with all manner of experts, cannot successfully manage players to play on four successive weekends, county boards should hand them their walking papers.
The GAA now exists in a non-stop cacophony of moaning so should be renamed the GAWA — The Gaelic Athletic Whinge Association. Kieran Walsh
Drumcondra Dublin 9