Meath manager Andy McEntee believes the Royal County and All-Ireland champions Dublin are ahead of the curve with full-time strength and conditioning experts for their county teams.
McEntee revealed it was ‘part of the gig’ when he agreed to become Meath manager last August that John Coghlan, the renowned sprint coach, would join him.
The duo worked together in 2012 when McEntee managed the Meath minors to the All-Ireland final and again in 2016 with AIB All-Ireland Club champions Ballyboden St Enda’s.
Coghlan, who has worked with Ireland sprint record holder Paul Hession and Su Bingtian, the first Asian athlete to run sub 10 seconds for 100 metres, was based in China last year. But he returned to take up the new Meath GAA Head of Athletic Development position and works with various teams in the county including McEntee’s promotion-chasing senior footballers.
McEntee compared the position to the High Performance Manager role Bryan Cullen was appointed to by Dublin GAA early last year.
“It was part of the gig, I would have been reluctant to do it without him,” said McEntee. “That is how much I regard him. He is that good. And that is one of the things we are trying to do, we are trying to surround ourselves with the best possible people we can, the team around the team, and I think I am fortunate enough to have the people I have around me.”
The benefits of a central figure overseeing strength and conditioning throughout various age groups and codes is obvious and convinced Dublin and Meath to take the plunge with the full-time appointments.
“I suppose there is a financial aspect to it because this is a guy with a serious CV and experience. County boards are trying to run a business as well as trying to raise money and I suppose that is what has prevented people from doing this in the past,” said McEntee.
“But if you want to be competitive, a bit of joined-up thinking is necessary and having the same guy overseeing all the training regimes for all the teams makes sense.
“He is employed, this is his day job and hopefully we can get the most out of him, between clubs and schools, academies and stuff like that. He is there to be used. He looks after the physical conditioning of all the lads and I would have 100% faith in him. He is a really good fella, very passionate about it despite the fact that he is a Dub!”
It’s looking good so far for Meath who could be promoted to Division 1 of the league if they beat Clare on Sunday and Kildare take care of Galway.
McEntee shrugged when asked if Meath are ready to play the likes of Dublin and Kerry in the top flight.
“You could go into Division 1 and you are not ready for it and you could get walloped every week, and you would get walloped if you are not ready for it, and how would that help you going into the Championship? I am not so sure.
“You do get used to playing against the top teams but if all the experience you gain is bad experience, mentally it can drag you down. Probably at the moment, we wouldn’t be ready. We wouldn’t have been ready this year certainly to play in Division 1.”
McEntee was speaking at the launch of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star awards. He was heavily critical of the new ‘Super 8’ football championship format which will see a new group stage replace the All-Ireland quarter-finals, providing extra games between the top teams. “I’m not a fan of it,” said McEntee. “Why don’t you just call it exactly what it is — which is a money-spinning racket. I think it’s a money-spinning racket.
“Meath mightn’t even make it that far. Look, it’s fine for those teams that do make it but what about the other teams? What about club football? The prize for getting into the ‘Super 8’s’ is so good that no county is going to allow club football to be played for at least a month beforehand.
“Why would you? The consequences of not making it are so dire and the rewards are so big that you would say, ‘I’m not taking any chances, no club’.”
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