Ryan insists surgery 'just way it is' for top players
Kildare manager Jason Ryan insists he is not alarmed by the fact that 10 of his extended squad have gone or will undergo corrective surgery between the end of the off-season and the beginning of the league next month.
Ryan feels that such procedures are a "reality" now for GAA players, who can benefit from much broader and more advanced surgical methods and better rehabilitation to aid their recovery.
Kildare have reeled off three successive O'Byrne Cup wins in eight days to qualify for a semi-final date with UCD on Sunday.
But the list of players being forced to undergo surgery will extend to 10 when Brian Flanagan goes under the knife once more for a knee reconstruction that will keep him out for the season.
Niall Kelly and Eoin Doyle have have hip injuries, Jonathan Byrne underwent surgery last weekend for a hand injury, Alan Smith has had groin repairs, while Peter Kelly has had a knee operation.
Ryan insists there shouldn't be so much surprise at a number in double figures and is sure every county has a growing list of players undergoing corrective surgery for problems that might have not have been addressed in the past.
"Morgan O'Callaghan, our team liaison officer who was involved with Paul Earley's International Rules management team last October, put it into context when he said 'this is just the way it is'.
"As soon as the International Rules was over he said loads of the lads were going in for surgery, all over the place," recalled Ryan.
"So we have to accept that, with the demands there are, this is regular, this is what happens. It's the level we're at now.
"If you are a Leinster rugby player it wouldn't be unusual for a fella to have surgery every year.
"In the AFL it's the norm for fellas to have surgery. If you went two or three seasons without surgery it would be very unusual, whether it's a clean-out of your knee or whatever. It's just now in GAA our work loads are very high.
"The rate of recovery is better. Things are being diagnosed that were being left to linger and fellas aren't retiring with little issues that can now be addressed.
"There is no possibility of recovery in GAA being as good as it is in AFL or professional sport because we have to work and we are pushing all the time."
Ryan also believes the Association continues to fail to grasp the issue of burnout, which is such a common theme at this time of year.
"Burnout is not being addressed at all for the group that is most in danger. For the Sigerson/fresher guys it's just mental, what the inter-county guys are being put under is potentially ... just mental."
Ryan stressed that the need for mandatory qualifications for strength and conditioning coaches was just as important as it is for skills coaches in the association.
"Appropriately qualified coaches, skills wise, is one thing, but having appropriately qualified coaches for strength and conditioning and physical preparation is equally important," he stressed.
"The days of someone overseeing a programme because they have big biceps are gone. Gaelic football and hurling are not rugby."
Ryan is unsure of the return date for the likes of Peter and Niall Kelly and Eoin Doyle and feels that Kildare supporters need to be patient with the changes that are taking place.
Ryan confirmed that Flanagan would see no action for Kildare in 2014. "He ruptured his posterior cruciate last year during the league and he has had one or two operations on it since but now he's going in for a reconstruction. He'll be gone for a year," he said.
Meanwhile, former Tipperary star Colm Bonnar has stepped down as manager of Waterford club Ballygunner -- just weeks after he was installed as the club's new boss.
Bonnar, a former Wexford manager and selector with Tipperary and Waterford, replaced Andy Moloney, a former Ballygunner player who had managed the team for the last two seasons.
Moloney was due to be a selector for the coming season, but some internal wrangling prompted him to walk away.
Bonnar then compiled a new back-room team but, after giving the matter further thought, the Cashel native decided to quit.
Club officials have now established a sub-committee to find the club's third manager in a matter of months.