Burnout debate is a complex issue, insists Model boss Ryan

WEXFORD football manager Jason Ryan accepts that the GAA is trying to address the burnout issue but reckons that there is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution.

Ryan was one of the most vocal critics of the winter training ban last season but has thawed a little on the subject in the intervening period.

The topic of burnout raised its head again this week. Or more specifically, the GAA’s implementation, if not enforcement, of a collective training ban for inter-county teams in November and December.

The ban was put in place to protect county players from suffering injuries but according to Mike McGurn, the chances are that the opposite will be the case.

“What I’ve learned in the last year is that it’s not the same for everybody,” said Ryan. “I think the break is beneficial for Sigerson Cup and Fitzgibbon Cup players but it depends if you have any of them.

“Some managers have a lot. Last year, we had only two; Ciarán Lyng and Shane Roche.

“If you have 10 Sigerson players, they are doing more than enough with their college teams.

“Then you have some guys that are finished club championship in July or August and that’s a hell of a long block to January. The other side is we had someone like Adrian Morrissey involved with Kilmacud Crokes last year and that seriously interrupted his preparations with us but if we’d have made him to do that as well as what he was doing with Kilmacud, that would have caused him a lot of problems.”

McGurn suggested that a player’s various managers should communicate with each other and co-operate to ensure that their charge isn’t overworked but Ryan isn’t convinced that this approach is practical.

And unlike the professional sports like rugby and soccer, there is no officially recognised hierarchy whereby one team takes priority.

“Last year I didn’t have any U21s. The previous year I had two. One of those was on a Sigerson team so I had two managers to speak to.

“But what about the guy has fellas in five or six colleges? Some of those might be on county U21 hurling and football teams as well. How do you communicate with all those and who has the higher authority? And what’s to say that they’ll all do what was agreed? It’s just not that straightforward.

“I don’t know what the solution is” Ryan admits. “This is an amateur association and I am supportive of that, and all the ideals that go with it. That makes it difficult for inter-county managers and coaches though because you don’t have the case of a certain group over-riding others, of being able to call the shots, like Declan Kidney does with the Irish rugby team.”

One other point made by McGurn was that teams might have to forsake results early on to prepare for championship success. The secondary competitions would definitely fall by the wayside, while a lot of teams suffer in terms of results during the league as they engage in heavy work.

According to Ryan, it’s just about weighing up your options and deciding what your priorities are.

He is sure of one thing though, just as McGurn is.

“Training doesn’t cause burnout but the wrong type of training does. You don’t do in June what you’re doing in January. If the correct training is being done, you’re just building blocks after that, one on top of the other.”

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