Monday 20 May 2019

Dempsey: Players usually recover from games in three days

Kilkenny hurling trainer Michael Dempsey. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Kilkenny hurling trainer Michael Dempsey. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Playing five major championship games on successive weekends is physically well within the range of modern-day inter-county players, but it does present psychological challenges which need to be carefully managed.

That's according to Michael Dempsey, Kilkenny hurling trainer for the past 12 years and who also has vast experience of players' requirements in his role as course leader for Sports Management and Business (GAA) in IT Carlow.

His comments are especially relevant as Tyrone, Kildare and Monaghan footballers face a fifth game in 28/29 days this weekend.

"Most players are well recovered physically within 72 hours of a game," Dempsey said.

"Obviously, it's different if a player is carrying an injury but if he's not, he should be back to the baseline in 72 hours or even quicker sometimes.

"There may be variations for younger and older players but, in general, it holds good.

"In the modern game, where the full panel is used extensively, one-third of the team won't have played the full game anyway.


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"The position a player plays in can also be a factor but, in general, the physical recovery is quick once it's handled properly, which is very much the case nowadays.

"The psychological side of playing every weekend can be trickier. We're not used to it in the GAA, although we've had more of it over the last while," said Dempsey.

Having failed to come through the provincial route, Tyrone, Kildare and Monaghan played qualifiers on the weekends of June 23/24, June 30/July 1 and July 7/8 before heading into All-Ireland quarter-final action last weekend.

They continue this weekend, prior to having a two-week break before the final round (Aug 4/5). The All-Ireland SFC semi-finals are on the following weekend.

Galway had four weeks between winning the Connacht final and the start of the round-robin while Dublin, Kerry and Donegal had a three-week break.

It underlines the value of winning provincial championships, although that's reduced somewhat by the scheduling which pairs the winners against each other in the opening round of the 'Super 8' series.

According to Dempsey, the psychological challenge of getting players ready for games on successive weekends can be demanding, especially after a defeat. "If a team plays well, they are automatically positive," he said. "The same goes for individual players. But if they didn't, there can be a lot of emotional stuff to sort out.

"That's where management comes in. It's their job to get that right. On top of that, there's the planning for the actual match, the game-plan, the opposition etc.

"The minute a game is over, you've got to start looking to the next one straight away."

Monaghan and Tyrone are going into this weekend's action on a high after a string of wins, whereas Roscommon have lost two of their last three games. However, the defeat by Galway in the Connacht final wasn't overly deflating, unlike last Saturday's 18-point drubbing by Tyrone.

"Coming off a defeat, especially a big one, can be hard. It's important to get the mood right as quickly as possible. And while inter-county teams live in a bubble, they are not immune to social media. And we all know what's going on there.

"Again, a lot comes down to management and creating the right environment to have lads as right as possible as quickly as possible," said Dempsey, who as well as working with Brian Cody since late 2005, is also a former Laois football manager.

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