The Secretary of the Ulster Schools’ GAA has hit out at some ridiculous training regimes that some Ulster schools have set out over the next two months.
This writer has received the schedules of schools training in December and January. The annual Ulster schools’ GAA All-Stars trial is tonight and one school had scheduled training for the day before, and the day after, which would not even be 24 hours after the trial match.
Most alarmingly, a school has scheduled a running session for Christmas Day. Seamus Woods, who also served on the recent Fixtures Review Committee, is alarmed by such demands placed on teenagers.
“There have been so many reports and there is so much evidence about players being burnt out, and over-used. Everybody agrees that it is happening and accepts the evidence, but it is always everybody else’s fault except the person doing the talking,” explained the Tyrone man.
“We have heard about teams doing three outdoor field sessions per week in the run up to Christmas, as well as individual strength and condition sessions on each day in between; to describe this as ill-advised is a gross understatement, and someone needs to intervene.
Self-interest permeates every level in the GAA, and the lack of governance and oversight at every level creates the vacuum which gives free rein to those responsible for manic training regimes.
“Young players will be involved with their clubs, schools, and possibly an academy squad, but where is the oversight which will regulate and constrain a player’s involvement in those three areas?
"The same thing is happening with many at Third Level.” Woods has taken part in many reviews but his frustration is palpable when the recommendations contained in reports go unheeded.
“The strategic plan for All-Ireland schools is about the integration of schools with clubs. The fact is that schools have been, at best, semi-detached from the mainstream GAA, operating in a parallel universe,” said Woods.
“This harks back historically to a time when there were fewer schools, mostly run by religious orders who did their own thing and nobody would trespass into their constituency. That era has long gone, but too many schools remain detached.
“Schools and clubs are sharing the same players and there are so many avenues for co-operation between clubs and schools; there is player development, coaching, sharing expertise, synchronising training programmes, sharing expertise resources, and facilities, coordinating rehabilitation programmes when necessary.”