LIMERICK HURLER AND Dr Harty Cup coach Niall Moran has warned that the demands being placed on leading young GAA players at schools level is reaching ‘boiling point’.
Moran is a teacher in Limerick school Ardscoil Rís and is the coach to the school’s hurling team who are the reigning Dr Harty Cup champions. He was previously involved in the Ardscoil Rís sides that contested the 2010 and 2011 All-Ireland colleges finals.
The 31 year-old, who played for Limerick in the 2007 All-Ireland final, has witnessed first-hand the increase in preparations at inter-county level. He is now concerned about the demands being placed at schools level as Ardscoil Rís get set for tomorrow’s Dr Harty Cup quarter-final meeting with HS Bandon.
His comments come after the GAA’s minor review workgroup released a report last week that looks at the level of minor activity in the GAA and addresses the issue of burnout.
“The amount of time that goes in to preparing a Harty Cup team is akin to inter-county minor. The preparation involved in colleges hurling has gone through the roof. I think it’s at boiling point if these levels are maintained.
“I’ve heard Niall Moyna speak about burnout and it’s something I see first hand at school level. You see it in players. One of our star players Peter Casey has the mumps at the moment, another in Ronan Lynch has a very bad back injury after a recent challenge.
“The whole thing is just too fractured. Speaking to contemporaries in Tipperary, the U21 hurling championship from last year is still going on there. In Limerick, the minor hurling championship only finished just before Christmas.
“The Dr Harty Cup is one of the longest running competitions in the country, starting in September and not finishing until late February. That’s six months. I think we need to go like the Leinster colleges and start it after Christmas.
“Guys are being pulled at all levels, even at 18. I don’t think the amount of competitive games has increased but the element of training. I think we’ll look back at this period in about 5-10 years and realise it’s been totally out of order. We’ll be proved foolish.”
Moran has good assistance amongst the current Ardscoil Rís coaching team. 2013 Clare All-Ireland U21 winning captain Paul Flanagan is now teaching in the school. Limerick hurler Barry Hennessy, who will play for Kilmallock in next month’s AIB All-Ireland SHC club semi-final, is also helping out.
“We also have Fergal Lyons doing a lot of the coaching. All of us involved are still in playing capacities, so we need that amount to offload the duties amongst us. It’s difficult to coach while you’re still playing. It’s hectic, I’m with Limerick, working in the school and trying to run a farm at home as well.
“But to be involved at colleges thought is very enjoyable, especially when you see what it means to the young lads. It’s been a tricky campaign for us this year. We struggled through the group stages and took a big beating by Thurles CBS.
“We’re in the knockout stages now and facing Bandon. We’ve only one starting outfield player from last year and that’s Ronan Lynch, who’ll probably miss out through injury. Bandon have beat Midleton, many people’s pre-tournament favourites. We’re going in as underdogs, it’s a full role reversal from last year.”
Wednesday January 14thDr Harty Cup quarter-finals
Ardscoil Rís v Hamilton High Bandon, Mallow, 1.30pm
Rochestown College v Nenagh CBS, Charleville, 1.30pm
Castletroy CC v PS Youghal, Cahir, 1.30pm