At Breaking Point

'It is just unsustainable' - Warning as young GAA stars doing 12 sessions in 9 days

A new report has signalled the danger of burnout amongst young GAA players,

LEADING YOUNG PLAYERS in the GAA are being expected to train 12 times in 9 days and could be part of 10 teams at peak periods during the year.

The practice ‘is unsustainable’, according to Micheal Martin, the head of the GAA’s minor review workgroup which yesterday published their document which looks at the level of minor activity in the GAA and addresses the issue of burnout.

The 14-man committee consulted with several leading players including Podge Collins (Clare), Matthew O’Hanlon (Wexford) and Ryan Burns (Louth) before producing it’s findings.

Padraic Collins James Crombie / INPHO Clare's Podge Collins James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Ryan Burns 17/5/2014 Cathal Noonan / INPHO Louth's Ryan Burns Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“You saw the smartabase week from March 1-9 and that was random,” revealed Martin. “I could have put up players with a similar burden or I could have put up the month of March. There are players doing 12 sessions in 9 days and maybe even more.

“Training twice a day and no chance of recovery. These players are being asked to do too much.In the last five years that the level of preparation at minor and all inter-county levels has exploded, and I think it is unsustainable. It’s certainly unsustainable at minor level and there are issues at U21 level and we have acknowledged that that needs to be looked at in our report as well.”

The case of O’Hanlon was cited by committee member Ger Ryan.

“Matthew O’Hanlon was involved with 10 teams at minor. He was a dual player at inter-county level, then with the club he was playing at three levels in hurling and football and also at school. That made up 10 teams.

Matthew O'Hanlon and Ciaran Kilkenny James Crombie / INPHO Matthew O'Hanlon in action for the Wexford U21 footballers in 2012. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

John Power and Matthew O'Hanlon Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO O'Hanlon in action for the Wexford U21 hurlers later in 2012. Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

“I don’t see how that’s physically possible. Managers in some cases are enlightened but in other cases they’re saying to the player, ‘you have to give your priority to our team’.”

“The other thing is that we have to look at players as individuals. This is a collection of 30, 35 players and all their needs aren’t the same. If a school asks a guy to train at half 7 in the morning and a county panel ask him to train at half 7 in the evening, he’s not going to say, ‘no’.

“He might also be doing his Leaving Cert. So he leaves home at maybe half 6 and he mightn’t be home until, say, 10 at night. And what is his nutrition like throughout the day? I think there are a whole raft of issues.”

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