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Survey highlights burnout fears in young GAA players

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Ard Scoil Rís player Ronan Lynch dejected after losing a game

Ard Scoil Rís player Ronan Lynch dejected after losing a game

SPORTSFILE

Ard Scoil Rís player Ronan Lynch dejected after losing a game

Young GAA players are being driven to breaking point by excessive demands, which are putting their physical and psychological welfare at risk.

That's according to the findings of a survey of inter-county minor (U-18) players, which reveal some startling results. They will be of major concern within the Association as the issue of player burnout returns to the agenda.

The survey discovered that 62pc of minors played games while carrying injuries, while 42pc reported "experiencing chronic fatigue". This arises from relentless training and playing schedules with club, college and county teams.

Some 24pc of the respondents said that they had been involved in GAA activity seven days a week at certain times of the year, while a further 27pc were committed to six days a week.

And, in a clear indication of the unreasonable stresses being placed on young players by managers and coaches, 81pc said that they had come under pressure to give up either hurling or football, when they enjoyed both. Also, 35pc believed they were asked to train too often.

The survey was carried out by the GAA's Minor Review Work Group, who are compiling a report and recommendations for consideration by Central Council and Congress.

"It is important to highlight that there is no one answer to the challenges faced in this area but we are satisfied that our proposals will improve what is a very serious situation," states its interim report.

They also note that there is little concern being shown for the long-term welfare of young players.

Among the proposals, arising from the report, is the raising of the age, to 17, at which a player can line out for adult teams.

It's also recommended that no inter-county minor challenge games be permitted, that each province would use the same format for its championships, that regional leagues replace the current provincial leagues and that second-level college competitions start no earlier than the second weekend in October and be completed by the weekend after St Patrick's Day.

There are also recommendations about how many times a player can train within a specific time span.

The report also notes that "there is insufficient education of players, coaches and others on the importance of rest and recovery."

Irish Independent