Newly-appointed Cork underage managers Derek Kavanagh and Diarmuid O’Sullivan believe the development squad programme rolled out by Rebel Óg officials last night will eliminate burnout amongst the county’s most talented youngsters.
The programme, centred on player education, will see Cork’s elite hurlers and footballers from U15 upwards work with UCC sports scientists in areas concerning flexibility, fitness, gym technique and video analysis at the Mardyke arena.
Moreover, each member of the county’s U15 and U16 development squads are logged onto an online portal which will allow managers monitor the amount of training sessions and games an individual is clocking.
Cork U16 manager Diarmuid O’Sullivan said the programme would not only reduce instances of burnout amongst teenagers, but allow the county’s emerging talents to continue playing well into their thirties.
“What they have access to now and the amount of information they have access to is incredible. I we had that when we were developing as hurlers some of us might still be playing,” insisted the former Cork full-back.
“Inter-county players are dropping off at 30-years of age. I dropped off at 30. Just regarding their flexibility, how to stretch properly, if we had all that information when we were minors back in 1995, ’96 and ‘97, it would have prolonged fellas’ careers no doubt.
“The new computer programme is fantastic. Without a doubt they all need to be monitored. The amount of teams that lads at U16 level have to play with, college teams, club teams at U16, U17 and minor, they are being pulled and dragged left right and centre.
“One lad on the U16 development squad is out of action for 10 weeks because he kept being pushed and pushed with his club for the last 12 months. he can’t train now for the next 10 weeks and that is not good enough. Clubs need to be aware of it; parents need to be aware of it. If they are continued to be pushed their careers will end early. If they are willing to take the information we are giving out here they are giving themselves a better chance. You can’t flog a dead horse.”
Retired Cork footballer Derek Kavanagh, who will oversee this year’s U15 football outfit, stressed the importance of educating players before bad habits are picked up.
“I can remember being 15. The ambition was to play with Cork. I wanted to train and get the maximum exposure to training. The generation after all this training came in, you are now seeing the pitfalls of it,” he claimed.
“We were all looking for short terms goals in the gym. We were all doing the heavy weights with bad techniques. I have a hip replacement to show for it, I don’t attribute that to anything specific, I am just saying if you look at the average 30-year old Gaelic footballer now they would have had all this excellent training methods, but possibly not the best techniques.
“You are now getting lads in at 14, 15 and 16-years of age and you are teaching them the proper techniques to train. We are not here to win anything, we are here to get the best underage players in Cork and train them in the best way possible. We are nipping any bad habits in the bud.”
Rebel Óg development squad administrator Kevin O’Donovan is hopeful that the model will be adopted by all Cork clubs in the near future.
“Over the next year or two the development squad system will become a model of best practice, clubs then can access the kind of testing done here. The Mardyke make a range of instruction videos on how to do basic movements, speed advice and much more. We are hoping we can extend that to clubs once we get it in a proper form. In other words, we want to target every single boy in Cork at U15 and U16 with this, but in a structured, simple manner.”
Cork underage managers for 2014
U14 hurling (TBC); U14 football (TBC); U15 hurling (Ger Cunningham); U15 football (Derek Kavanagh); U16 hurling (Diarmuid O’Sullivan); U16 football (Brian Herlihy) ; U17 hurling (TBC); U17 football (Gerard Dineen).
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