Players will walk away
FINGALLIANS and NUI Maynooth manager Sean O'Toole believes that the demands on young players may cause them to walk away from the sport.
O'Toole, who brings his Fingallians team down to Skerries Harps next Sunday for their big AFL2 division clash with their Fingal rivals, cited the case of some players playing as many as four matches in different competition in quick succession.
'Last month you had the first round of the Under-21, Railway Cup game, Sigerson Cup and National League fixtures all played in a very close spell.
'So that's four games that some lads would play. And I just think that because the high-quality players are in such demand, their load is just way too high.
'I just can't see them playing past 26 or 27. It's not so much burnout - they are going to miss out socially as well.'
O'Toole, having guided Maynooth to the Sigerson Cup semi-finals where they eventually lost out to UCC, is nonetheless a big advocate of that competition.
'My own opinion is that the Sigerson allows lads to play with a smile on their face. It's intense, but there is not that much pressure on them. A lot of them are 21 years of age and I think it's good to let them play at that level under a little less pressure.'
This year's competition saw the unfortunate injury to Dublin defender Kevin O'Brien, who suffered an ACL injury that has sidelined the Naomh Mearnóg clubman for the rest of the season.
But O'Toole, having attended a coaching conference recently, cited a statistic which states that 6% of cruciate injuries are non-contact.
'The players now are faster and fitter and generate more power at this present time with all the weight training.
'And if you have an imbalance in the muscle, ie let's say in the quad hamstring, I assume that will create a situation where you don't have the muscles to counteract when you are decelerating and that's going to put pressure on the joints.
'Six per cent of cruciate injuries happen out of contact. If that happens, that means there is a control issue or an imbalance issue, and they can be prevented.
'There are things you can incorporate into your programme that can help to prevent these type of injuries. They actually have a programme called the GAA 15. It's a warm-up programme which is supposed to help prevent cruciate injuries.
'There was a high occurrence in Australia of ACL injuries a number of years ago and they put in programmes to try and limit it and they have been successful.'