There was an excellent article written in the Irish Examiner a number of weeks ago by former Cork footballer Conor McCarthy. It was on the topic of injuries at the top level of the GAA and it painted a rather depressing picture of where the game is going and the long term ill effects that playing GAA was having on players who were lucky enough to perform at the top.
At the moment the payment of managers is the most topical issue in the GAA and by extension the possibility of some sort of semi professional game in the years ahead if players should eventually receive some sort of payment. It would be a sad day if the GAA were to pay players but there would be one positive to come out of it in that the players may just begin to get some sort of protection.
At the moment a young player jumps on the inter county treadmill at 17 for county minor and in the biggest portion of cases by the time he is 26 or 27 he has been spat out the far end, broken, disillusioned and a shadow of his former self.
There is no sport in the world where players are asked to train to the intensity that GAA players are, while at the same time being exposed to, in most cases, a series of managers who are completely selfish in how they approach player development. In fact let’s not kid ourselves, most managers don’t care about player development. The patch up is all that matters. “Will you be all right for Sunday?”. “We really need you.” “You can play out round the forty and not do much sprinting!”
The bottom line is that what is going on at the moment in the GAA is actually quite dangerous and it is no wonder that players are ending up on the scrap-heap. You have a situation where players might be doing two or three different types of training at the same time. Sharp stuff with their school, college or underage county team; stamina based stuff with their club team and maybe speed endurance with a third team.