Former Meath captain Kevin Reilly has claimed that some GAA coaches aren’t qualified to be taking teams and are contributing to the player burnout problem.
Former International Rules star Reilly was forced to retire at just 29 last October after being told he’ll require a hip replacement in five to 10 years.
The Navan O’Mahonys club man was diagnosed with a chronic degeneration of his hip joint and was told the area is “a mess”.
Reilly underwent hip surgery, having previously had surgery on his back and Achilles. He said the reasons for his injuries were varied, but he acknowledged he had played a huge number of games at underage level in both codes.
In an interview with LMFM radio, the PE teacher said certain coaches are contributing to the burnout problem, because of their lack of expertise.
“A lot of coaches think that more is better,” said Reilly. “If you put in a two-hour session, well, then, that’s better than an hour-and-a-half, where all the research is pointing to high-intensity training. Specificity of training, in terms of linking it to, or mimicking, match-play, that’s where it should be.
“I don’t think enough coaches are skilled, or aware, or qualified enough to be taking teams. They’re all willing and, obviously, it’s an amateur sport and they have the best interests of the club, or the county, or the college [at heart], but I don’t think, in some cases, not all, that they have the necessary expertise or qualifications to do the job effectively.”
Reilly said that a number of players in his own club failed to make it at adult level, because they were “broke” as a result of over-activity.
“I know players and they would have been the leading lights in Meath at 17, 18, all the way up, but they never got to U21 or the senior grade, because they were broke, mentally and physically, because of the demands of training,” said Reilly. “I could name three or four players in my club alone that were really hot prospects for the future and never made it through, unfortunately. I put it down to the volume of training, of teams and games, that they had to contend with over those years.”
Reilly is taking part in a charity cycle from Navan to Galway in June to raise funds for Bumbleance, but he said he should be concentrating on football, as most players are “in their prime” at 30.
He featured in last year’s championship, but completed just two training sessions all season and retired, as a medic had predicted in 2014.
Reilly recalled that the medic said: “Look, the damage is done. You’re going to have to go for a hip replacement in five to 10 years. There’s not a lot we can do, only tidy it up.” The medic summed it up, by saying “it’s a mess”.
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