Gaelic Ath­letic Whinge As­so­ci­a­tion

Irish Examiner - - Opinion -

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

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