Burnout fears grow as Model chief reveals rash of hip replacements
Four GAA players in Wexford, all aged in their early 20s, have had double hip replacements, raising serious concerns over the workload being placed on the younger generation.
The startling revelation comes in a week where Wexford removed their minor hurling manager Eddie Walsh for allegedly breaching guidelines by holding two squad sessions when the players were supposed to be training exclusively with their various schools teams.
County chairman Diarmuid Devereux said a stand had to be taken and that, far from regarding it as a Wexford controversy, he saw it as a county taking appropriate action to protect young players.
"I know of four cases of players in their early 20s in Wexford who have had double hip-replacements," he said. "Players of that age should not be having serious problems with their hips.
"I remember listening to Dr Pat O'Neill on the issue of burnout and the unreasonable demands placed on young players and it stuck me to the floor. As an Association, we have to face up to our responsibilities to our players, especially the younger ones who are playing in more than one grade."
Under GAA rules, county minor squads are not allowed to go into collective training until February 1, but two sessions were held in Wexford last week.
Apart from breaking the rules, there was also concern over the pressure it placed on players who are already training with their college teams.
"If you train, say three times a week with your college and twice with the county, it leaves very little time for anything else.
"As county chairman, what am I supposed to say to parents when they complain that it's a ridiculous workload to place on lads who are preparing for their Leaving Cert?
"We've taken action to deal with it because it's the right thing to do. It's not just right in Wexford but in every other county too.
"Rules are there for a reason and they're for the good of the players," he said.