Swans mission for Cats star Fennelly
KILKENNY hurling star Michael Fennelly is set to Swan around Australia – literally!
The four-time All-Ireland medal winner takes off on Tuesday for Australia, where he will study the training methods of Aussie Rules club the Sydney Swans.
Fennelly has just completed his thesis for a masters in sports performance at the University of Limerick and is looking forward to learning lessons which will stand him in good stead for the future.
Last August he spent some time with West Bromwich Albion on a similar mission.
"I'm going to Sydney to do some work experience with the Swans," said Fennelly. "I'll be there for two months. It's just to get a bit of experience there and to see what those boys do.
"They'll obviously do a lot of things different to us, but it will be nice to get a bit of experience.
"I'm concentrating on that area, strength and conditioning and a bit of coaching, so hopefully next year I'll pick up a job as well.
"It stems from doing my masters. I just handed up my thesis this week. I did it on GPS (Global Positioning System, in sport). In the Aussie Rules they do a lot of work on GPS and I'll have a look at that and also at their training in general.
"It's great to see a different code, a different sport and see how they train and to pick up different ideas.
"I was at West Brom in August and it was nice to see their facilities and the way that they train and what way they manage, and different things like that."
The Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman believes that GPS – which monitors players' movement during workouts and matches – can be a useful addition to training players and preventing injuries, but it needs more research, he feels.
"For my thesis I was looking at a couple of variables, such as distance, speed intensity, accelerations, decelerations and heart rate, that was one area of it," he said.
"Hopefully the GAA might come in and do some research on this, because all the other sporting codes have data, have papers and have research done on it. The GAA need to get in there and see are we training right.
"Obviously we're doing a lot of training in football and hurling. Are we over-training? It's definitely something that needs to be answered.
"The GAA need to come in on this and set up some sort of programme to get data research on teams for a couple of years from January the whole way to September.
"Then they could come out and say 'look, this is what we found, you can take it up whatever way you want' but at least it would give managers and strength and conditioning coaches the data.
"They could then make their own mind up on it. Soccer, rugby and other sports, they have loads of data research out there. Hurling has nothing, Gaelic football has a small bit – but not enough of it. There's an odd bit here and there – but you'd need a full year's research.
"I think it would benefit everyone in general."
The 2013 season was disastrous for the player and for Kilkenny, and Fennelly is desperate to fully recover from the serious ankle injury which undermined his campaign at club and county level.
It's still bothering him – so much so, that he has only just dispensed with an ankle support boot.
"I only took off the boot during the week so I'm just back walking now, taking baby steps and being fairly careful with it. If it takes a bit of time," he said. "It has been a rough year. This happened back in April and I am still going through the rehab on it."
Ideally he wants to be fit in time to play some part in the National Hurling League as the Cats seek to bounce back as championship challengers.
"I know a lot of people are asking about retirements – but I can't think of one person that might retire. Obviously Henry (Shefflin) is 35, but if he avoids injury he's in great shape," he said.
"There are still a couple of years left definitely with the older lads, and they are trying to blood new guys as well. So fingers crossed, next year will be a better year for Kilkenny and myself as well."