McGurn says flouting training ban makes sense

MANAGERS who break the training ban are acting in the best interests of their players’ welfare as they face pre-season action, according to Ireland International Rules fitness coach Mike McGurn.

The Fermanagh man, who finished up with Armagh after two seasons last year, is adamant players who trained during the moratorium won’t be as susceptible to injuries in the pre-season as those who recommenced this week.

A number of county panels reconvened this week but in McGurn’s opinion the majority have been back working for weeks and will benefit from doing so.

“It’s no secret that most teams are training away in November and December,” said McGurn. “That’s pretty common and how they’ve done it is up to them. But that in some way is smart management because you’re protecting the players. From a health and safety perspective, that’s what they’re doing. No sport in the world would prescribe one week’s training for a competitive game because there’s only one thing that’s going to happen and that’s people getting injured.”

An argument made in Croke Park is the pre-season competitions shouldn’t be taken seriously.

However, McGurn argues that’s easier said than done, especially with the competition that exists between counties in the McKenna Cup in Ulster.

“People call these friendlies but they’re not friendlies when it comes down to it.

“I’m not sure what it’s like in other provinces but suddenly this weekend we have Down against Armagh and there’ll be so many thousand people at that game. You’re telling me they are going into that game with only two sessions of preparation? No way. It doesn’t happen. Some time we have to get realistic and stop burying our heads in the sand.”

McGurn would be more concerned about the proliferation of injuries these next couple of weeks “if teams had observed the ban”.

But contrary to his point, reports of counties contravening the ban raises a player welfare problem in players not being insured.

Under the terms of the collective training ban rule, players are permitted to do personal gym programmes.

However, McGurn argues such strength and conditioning work is not substantial enough to avoid the risk of injury.

“I don’t think it’s more so the work in the gym that is going to prevent injury, it’s actually doing specific movements as you would do in a match.

“You can’t start exerting force on muscles, twisting and turning and running in different directions if you haven’t been doing that at minimum three weeks beforehand.

“The gym work is okay and it will prevent injury a wee bit but it’s the actual movements on the pitch that have to be simulated and that would be the big fear factor for players and managers.”

Central Council have voted to put forward a motion to this year’s Congress in Portlaoise to amend the closed season on a phased basis from this year on.

Meanwhile, former Roscommon manager Fergie O’Donnell has been appointed Connacht football manager for next month’s Interprovincial semi-final against Ulster.

Fermanagh manager Peter Canavan has named Ryan McCluskey as his captain for 2012 after the defender quit Irish Premiership soccer club Dungannon Swifts to rejoin the panel under the Tyrone legend.

The GAA yesterday confirmed all 400 tickets for their games development conference at Croke Park on Saturday January 14 have sold out.

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