Player burnout is a recurring topic in GAA these days. There’s little doubt that demands on players from their minor days to their mid twenties can be straining. Between lining out for both club and county – most likely – at underage and senior grades and in particular in colleges games, players may find themselves involved with a handful of teams at least. Nigh on double that if they happen to be dual players.
Now, many will doubtless disagree with the following, but, this hack would contend that these players need scant training at best. They do not, most certainly, need to be turned into gym bunnies. The following has been said regarding styles of play in the past but is worth repeating here – there’s no need to adopt a sheep going out a gap approach.
Most teams now do some form of weight training. This includes club sides at both adult and underage level. The latter in my view is ridiculous. Everyone else doing it is paltry reasoning. Much as this corner despises them, chances are such antics are here to stay. Mindful of same, the management of that aspect of things is crucial.
Sources indicate that many tangled up in Meath’s current injury mire – with the exception of Kevin Reilly, Shane O’Rourke and Seamus Kenny – ended up thence due to problems picked up in conditioning training last term. It seems very plausible and underlines the possible foibles of going such a road.
Of course, one man’s misery is another’s profit. With certain stalwarts out, players like Cormac Rowe, Stephen Crosby and Sean Tobin have grasped their chance. Others too such as Davy Dalton, his cousin Caolan Young and Mark Collins who’ve been around the fringes for some time. Of course, this is the time of year for such casting of the nets. And, in the opinion of yours truly, the most significant ‘catch’ has been Michael Newman. The Kilmainham player should’ve been involved some time ago. When he wasn’t, for whatever reason, Meath were the poorer for it.
Anyway, let’s keep the vibes good. There’s been much positivity around Meath GAA despite the setback in Clones. Yes, the result against Monaghan in the opening round of the NFL was abysmal but that’s been the only blip so far. Most important, however, was that the desired response from the players duly transpired against Wicklow in Aughrim.
Results elsewhere in the division ha broke for them too. Fermanagh are the only unbeaten team in the division and – even in a worst case scenario – winning their three home games would now leave them decently placed regarding promotion. It mightn’t have looked likely after the Monaghan match but still must be the minimum ambition.
The panel may get a bit stronger going forward too. While David Bray has been let go for the time being, the fact that he is at least in and around the setup has to be positive. Meath’s U-21s make their seasonal bow next week and with the possibility of two home assignments to begin their campaign, hopes would be that Sean Barry’s side will be able to build up a bit of momentum and, hopefully, terminate the county’s dire recent record at the grade. More beneficial still would be if some of them were to make the step up to the top table. There’s no reason why that shouldn’t happen.
Andy McEntee’s Meath Minor side have also made a promising beginning to their season, recording comfortable victories in the opening two rounds of the Leinster league against Wexford and Wicklow. Obviously, for the occupant of this seat, the most pleasing part and biggest source of pride has been seeing Dunboyne’s Seamus Lavin continue his inter county career and his colleagues Andy Markey and Sean McGrath begin theirs.
On a broader scale however, indications are that the county U-18s are again a strong bunch. There’s seemingly a fair quantity of last season’s panel still eligible which is always a big help at this level and also quite a few impressive newcomers as well. None more so than Ratoath’s Joey Wallace and Darragh Rowe of Syddan who, between them, accounted for 2-12 against Wicklow.
Factor in that the above win against Wicklow was achieved without a sizable contingent from St Patrick’s CS Navan (who themselves are enjoying a successful season) made of up of players like James O’Malley, Niall Kane, Ruairi O’Coilleann, James McEntee and Niall Lyons and their start to the season looks even more noteworthy.
So there’s plenty to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead. Now all that’s required is an upturn in the weather to allow these wheels get out to see plenty of it.