Saturday 18 November 2017

Hold the back page: Colleges adding to burnout crisis

Conor McGraynor, DCU, playing in round 3 of the O'Byrne Cup
Conor McGraynor, DCU, playing in round 3 of the O'Byrne Cup

Eamonn Sweeney

Everyone agrees that the GAA has a burnout problem and that the only solution is to cut down on the number of games being played by young footballers and hurlers.

OK then, why are the third-level colleges playing in the O'Byrne, McKenna and McGrath Cups? There was a time when they didn't. But now they do. And for players in the Dublin and Leinster colleges this means at least an extra two games, more if you advance in the competition as DCU have done this year.

It's pretty obvious that third-level football is a major contributor to player burnout, not least because players are often playing league matches through the winter. Some people involved in third-level football are among the most vociferous critics of burnout. Yet here they are, sending out players to play matches which aren't actually necessary. There's no onus on the colleges to participate in the O'Byrne Cup. They could just do as they used to do and go directly into the Sigerson Cup.

The explanation is, I suppose, that Sigerson Cup managers find these competitions to be ideal preparation for their main objective. And they're entitled to do so. But what the college football fraternity aren't entitled to do is bemoan player burnout while simultaneously contributing to it.

You don't need a degree to know you can't have your cake and eat it.

Irish Independent

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