Limerick’s David Breen has yet to meet a fellow hurler who disagrees the current GAA fixture schedule is one giant mess.
When he tells them his chronic knee injury — which he will undergo surgery on this week, all but ruling him out of the Allianz League — is a result partly of that schedule, they only nod further.
A physio with a sports science background, the Munster SHC medallist believes ‘flogging himself’ over a number of years for club and county has been a ‘contributory factor’ to his present knee condition.
Breen was wing-forward on the Limerick side that contested last August’s All-Ireland semi-final against Clare and, following defeat, wasquickly thrust into a club campaign with Na Piarsaigh that only ended this month.
The upshot to that was his AIB provincial player of the year award,received yesterday, though Breen believes the entire championship should be done and dusted before Christmas.
“The length of the season is ridiculous. When you take county lads who are coming back in November of 2012, then keep playing with their county and then their club and are finishing up in February 2014, it is nonsense. It is one thing to say that it is tradition and Paddy’s Day (for All-Ireland Club finals) is something fantastic that players dream about but at the end of the day it is constant loading. It is constant training, constant driving for guys who are living away from home. The fact that there is nine weeks between matches, before and after Christmas, does not mean that players take a break for those nine weeks. Managers just keep going and going and you keep training away.”
Losing to Portumna in the All-Ireland Club semi-finals, Na Piarsaigh’s second reversal at that stage in three seasons, has only heightened the sense of frustration for Breen.
He insists it is not a personal gripe though and that the club schedule is something that the GAA need to review urgently for the sake of allplayers.
“A lot of players will suck it up and get on with it. But by the time things come to a head and guys are going in for knee replacements and hipreplacements, they have hung up the boots a long time and no-one islistening to them at that stage. They are old news and they haven’t got as strong a voice. The whole issue is brushed under the carpet. It needs to be regulated. There needs to be talks between different coaches, be it university, club, senior, U21, minor. There needs to be dialogue.”
Breen is due to have surgery on his knee this week and admitted his principle target will be to be fit for the Championship.
The other Na Piarsaigh players with Limerick have been given a period of extended rest.
Breen said: “Guys’ careers are being cut short because they are flogging themselves, not taking adequate down time. With Limerick, for example, and the Na Piarsaigh guys, the management have been quite open in saying to take four or five weeks off but in the space of a 13-month season, five weeks isn’t a lot of time, especially if they have niggling injuries.”
Meanwhile, Breen confirmed Sean Stack has stepped down as NaPiarsaigh manager. The Clare legend had spent five years at the helm winning two county and two provincial titles.
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