Gym work will not pay off if players don’t have skills, says Mike McGurn

Fitness and conditioning guru Mike McGurn warns Carlow’s disappointing Leinster championship opener shows no amount of gym work will compensate for a shortage of skills.

The former S&C coach to the Ireland national rugby team was responding to a YouTube video published last week which featured the Carlow footballers completing a series of rigorous gymwork-outs.

McGurn, who is now working with the Antrim footballers, is impressed by the amount of work Carlow are doing, but suggested it was all for nothing, judging by the 17-point loss to Laois in Saturday’s Leinster preliminary round game.

The Fermanagh man, who has also been advising Manchester United of late, accepts Carlow may have been fitter and stronger than their counterparts in Netwatch Cullen Park. However, it counted for nothing without the necessary skill to complement those attributes.

“The result on Saturday begs the point: You can do all the training in the world but if you don’t have the players it doesn’t matter. It’s flawed if you think that’s going to get you there.

“The training Carlow were doing in the video was top-notch conditioning, as high a level as most teams in the country. But all that training is futile if you don’t have the quality of player to do something with the ball once you cross the whitewash.

“The GAA needs to look at a two-tier championship as this 17-point hammering doesn’t benefit Carlow or Laois.”

Asked if he felt Carlow might be overloading this year to condition themselves for the seasons ahead, McGurn said: “I don’t know what training Carlow have been doing other than what I saw in the video but if you’re putting in four or five nights a week for seven months and end up getting beat by 17 points, where’s the appetite to go back?

“The gaps between Division 1, 2, 3 and 4 teams are massive now and that’s just the way it’s going to be. We’re doing two nights a week because that’s enough for us to get to where we want to. Doing five or six nights a week is not going to improve our standing in any shape or form.

“When we’re knocked out of the Ulster championship and qualifiers, at least we haven’t made such a big sacrifice that we’re left saying ‘that was a waste of time’. There has to be enjoyment and people have to live lives.

“It looks like Carlow put in serious work and there was probably a lot of money and time invested but then you look at the score-line against Laois and you feel sorry for them, that all their commitment led to that outcome.”


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