Doctor warns on Cavan burn-out
A member of the GAA's medical, scientific and welfare committee has accused the association of ambivalence over the issue of player welfare.
Dr Philip Carolan -- a member of the high-profile Croke Park committee and the dean of the faculty of sports and exercise medicine at the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons -- believes the association has been talking out of both sides of its mouth in relation to player welfare.
Dr Carolan is also the Cavan team doctor and was speaking as his county's U-21 team prepared for a three-day turnaround from their Ulster championship win over Tyrone to their All-Ireland semi-final against Wexford in Parnell Park tomorrow night.
Efforts to have the semi-final put back to Wednesday night failed, despite agreement from Wexford, who had qualified for the semi-finals seven days earlier.
It is understood that Cavan and Tyrone, with the agreement of Wexford, proposed playing the semi-final on Wednesday. Croke Park was lobbied with this proposal on Wednsday last prior to the Ulster final in Enniskillen.
Initially, all three teams got the impression that CCCC might run with this, but it is understood that a directive was issued for the game to go ahead on its initial date tomorrow night because All-Ireland finals require a 13-day run-in by rule.
That hasn't stopped Dr Carolan raising the issue of player welfare and the "ambivalence" of the governing body.
"I'm saying this knowing that Cavan are fully intent on playing on Saturday. The county board did seek a deferral of the semi-final with the other counties, but it wasn't granted," said Dr Carolan.
"That raises a serious player welfare issue to my mind. Our players did not get away from Enniskillen until after 10.30 on Wednesday night. By the time they were back home or back to the towns and cities where they go to college -- Galway, Sligo, Belfast and Dublin it was 2.0 and after.
"After a tough match like that, players need 72 hours to recover. There is an element of unfairness about it as well as a player welfare issue.
"If Cavan lose on Saturday night, it will become a greater issue. The county hasn't won an Ulster U-21 title for 16 years and there was no opportunity to celebrate. It was straight into a swimming pool to begin recovery and off back to college.
"A very good document on player burn-out was produced by Pat O'Neill and his committee three years ago, but when you see this fixture going ahead and the Sigerson Cup being played on three successive days, you have to wonder if there is an element of talking out of both sides of the mouth on this.
"I understand the requirement for rules in an association this big, but to me, player welfare is paramount here and it's not central to this decision- making process."
The Ulster final was put back by a week because the Down/Tyrone semi-final required a replay. If agreement had been reached to play the semi-final on Wednesday night, all parties were agreeable to a replay, if it was required, on the following Easter Monday.